Key event in the development of energy-efficient electronics

A sample of promising material is being prepared for muon spin spectroscopy. Courtesy: University of Leeds.

Scientists have made a breakthrough in the development of next-generation electronics, which consumes less energy and generates less heat.

It involves the use of the complex quantum properties of electrons – in this case state of rotation electrons.

For the first time in the world, researchers – led by a group of physicists from the University of Leeds – announced in a journal Scientific achievements that they created a “spin capacitor” that is able to generate and maintain the spin state of electrons for several hours.

Previous attempts kept the rotation state only for a split second.

In electronics, a capacitor holds energy in the form of an electric charge. The spin capacitor is a variation of this idea: instead of holding only a charge, it also preserves the state of rotation of a group of electrons – in fact, it “freezes” the position of rotation of each of the electrons.

This ability to record the rotational state opens up the possibility of developing new devices that store information so efficiently that data storage devices can become very small. A single square inch spin capacitor can store 100 terabytes of data.

Dr. Oscar Cespedes, an assistant professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy who led the research, said: "This is a small but significant breakthrough in what could be a revolution in electronics based on the principles of quantum technology."

“Currently, up to 70 percent of the energy used in an electronic device, such as a computer or mobile phone, is lost in the form of heat, and this is the energy that comes from electrons moving around the circuits of the device. This leads to huge inefficiencies and limits the capabilities and sustainability of modern technology. The carbon footprint of the Internet is already similar to air travel and is increasing from year to year.

“With quantum effects that use light and environmentally friendly elements, there can be no heat loss. This means that the productivity of modern technology can continue to evolve in a more efficient and sustainable way, requiring much less energy. "

Dr. Matthew Rogers, one of the leading authors, also from Leeds, commented: “Our research shows that future devices may not have to rely on magnetic hard drives. Instead, they will have spin capacitors that run on light, which would make them very fast or have an electric field, which would make them extremely energy efficient.

“This is an exciting breakthrough. The application of quantum physics to electronics will lead to the emergence of new and new devices. ”

Key event in the development of energy-efficient electronics

Sample advanced material in its holder prior to muon spin spectroscopy. Courtesy: University of Leeds.

How does a spin capacitor work?

In conventional calculations, information is encoded and stored as a sequence of bits, for example: zeros and ones on the hard disk. These zeros and ones can be represented or stored on the hard disk by changing the polarity of the tiny magnetized areas on the disk.

With quantum technology, spin capacitors could write and read information encoded into the spin state of electrons using light or electric fields.

The research team was able to develop a spin capacitor using advanced materials The interface is made of a carbon form called buckminsterfullerene (buckyballs), manganese oxide and a cobalt magnetic electrode. The interface between nanocarbon and oxide is able to capture the spin state of electrons.

The time required for the decay of the spin state was increased by using the interaction between the carbon atoms in the buckyballs and the metal oxide in the presence of a magnetic electrode.

Some of the world's most advanced experimental facilities were used as part of the investigation.

Researchers used the ALBA synchrotron in Barcelona, ​​which uses electron accelerators to produce synchrotron light, which allows scientists to visualize the atomic structure of a substance and study its properties. Low-energy muon spin spectroscopy at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland was used to monitor local changes in the spin under the influence of light and electric irradiation within billionths of a meter inside the sample. A muon is a subatomic particle.

The results of the experimental analysis were interpreted with the help of computer scientists at the British Council on Science and Technology, where one of the most powerful supercomputers in the UK is located.

Scientists believe that their successes can be based on the most important devices that can hold a state of rotation for longer periods of time.

Additional Information:
T. Mursom et al., Reversible storage of spins in oxide-metal-fullerene heterojunctions, Scientific achievements (2020). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aax1085

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Key event in the development of energy-efficient electronics (2020, March 23)
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