This technology taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors.
"We devised a technique to cool the electrons internally - allowing reduction in operating voltage - so that we can create even smaller, more power-efficient devices," said study co-author Kyeongjae Cho, professor at the University of Texas, Dallas.
Each time a device such as a smartphone or a tablet computes, it requires electrical power for operation.
Reducing operating voltage would mean longer shelf lives for these products and others.
The researchers found that when a specific atomic thin film layer was added to a transistor, the layer acted as a filter for the energy that passed through it at room temperature.
The signal that resulted from the device was six to seven times steeper than that of traditional devices. Steep devices use less voltage but still have a strong signal.
"The whole semi-conductor industry is looking for steep devices because they are key to having small, powerful, mobile devices with many functions that operate quickly without spending a lot of battery power," said co-author Jiyoung Kim, a professor at the University of Texas, Dallas in the US.
"Our device is one solution to make this happen," Kim added. The study appeared online in the journal Nature Communications.