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Spin waves make electronics 1000 times more efficient

Spin waves hold the key to more efficiency.  According to a recent research study just published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, spin waves may be the key to increasing efficiency in an assortment of electronic items.  Anyone who spends hours multi-tasking with his/her smartphone or laptop for hours can vouch that these modern marvels of technology tend to heat up when used for extended periods of time.  Experts explain that the heat is caused by the all the electrical power used by the processor which does all the work quietly in the background.

Help for these hot items could be on the way says a research team from the University of California Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.  The Californian collaborators discovered a solution to this problem through experimental use of an emerging class of magnetic materials named “multiferroics”.  These multiferroics can noticeably decrease the power consumption of various logic devices–a specific type of circuit on a computer chip that performs processes such as calculations—utilized in microprocessors.

spin waves

Spin Waves

The microprocessors presently in use require the electric current to travel through very small electronic switches or transistors.  Heat energy is produced by the electron movement in the current.  Additionally, researchers note that switches often leak electrons.  This makes it hard to completely turn it off.

As chips become smaller, the amount of heat or wasted energy increases.  The research team discovered, however, that by using multiferroic material, chips can be turned on and off by “applying alternating voltage” or “the difference in electrical potential.”  Power is then carried through the material in what the team says is “a cascading wave through the spins of electrons.”  This process is called a spin wave bus.  The UCLA team has met with noteworthy results reducing heat through the use of a spin wave bus.

Their study, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Non-Volatile Logic program and by the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative through the WIN, has proven that using multiferroic material can make the processor as much as 1,000 times more efficient.  Their results also reveal the potential of electrical control of magnetism sans charge currents as well as the many potential applications in data storage devices and processors in the near future.

Principal investigator Kang L. Wang, UCLA’s Raytheon Professor of Electrical Engineering, reported on the future potential: “Spin waves open an opportunity to realize fundamentally new ways of computing while solving some of the key challenges faced by scaling of conventional semiconductor technology, potentially creating a new paradigm of spin-based electronics.”

(Image courtesy of EurekaAlert/ University of Gothenburg)

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.

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