How we use and generate electricity has changed dramatically over the past century yet the basic components that control its flow remain remarkably similar. Researchers at KAUST have now developed a novel type of component that could improve the performance of electrical circuits.

Electronic circuitry is traditionally constructed from three primary elements; a resistor, a capacitor and an inductor. A sinusoidal electrical signal passing through these devices will change in signal strength, or amplitude, and the relative timing of the crest of the wave, known as its phase. A resistor will change amplitude only while a capacitor and an inductor can also change phase, but only by exactly one quarter of the length of the wave, or 90°.

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