Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Blue dye could hold the key to super processing power

A technique for controlling the magnetic properties of a commonly used blue dye could revolutionise computer processing power, according to research published recently in Advanced Materials.

Scientists have demonstrated that they can control the properties in a dye known as Metal Phthalocyanine, or MPc, with the use of magnetism.

Though this technology is still in its infancy, researchers claim that the ability to control the magnetic properties of MPc could have the potential to dramatically improve information processing in the future.

iPods, CD read/writers, and other electronic devices already use magnetism as a system for signalling to process and store information.

Current technology, however, has limitations. According to Moore’s Law - a theory for describing the historical trend of computer hardware development – computer technology will eventually reach a ‘dead end’ as options for shrinking the size and increasing memory run out.

Dr Sandrine Heutz, from Imperial College London’s Department of Materials, and scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, believe results from recent experiments with MPc could provide the answer.

MPc contains carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen and can also contain a wide range of atoms at its centre. In their work they used either a copper or manganese metal atom at its centre. Scientists first observed MPc in 1907 and it has been used ever since as a dye in textiles and paper and has even been investigated for use as an anti-cancer agent.

Dr Heutz made a scientific breakthrough when she experimented with clusters of MPc. She found that she could make the metal centres of MPc have tiny magnetic interactions with one another. Like placing two compasses together and controlling which way the arrows point, she found that she could control how the metal centres of MPc spin in relation to one another.

The secret to controlling this spin lies in the way Dr Heutz experimented with MPc. She grew stacks of MPc in crystal structures on plastic surfaces and then experimented with the preparation conditions. She grew them at room temperature; applied heat; chemically altered the plastic surfaces that the crystals grew on; and changed the way the crystals grew. All these different elements altered the way the metal centres interacted with each other.

After three years of experimentation, the team can now control a set of microscopic interactions between the molecules.

Current information processing uses a switching process of zeros and ones to process and store ‘bits’ of information. Dr Heutz believes she could improve on this process to increase memory. So far the team can switch the interactions from ‘on/off’ and change the state of the interaction from ‘on’ to a different type of ‘on’. They are still experimenting with ways to turn the interaction ‘off/on’. When they find this last interaction Dr Heutz believes she will have a superior set of molecular signals for information processing and storage.

“Electronic devices already use magnetism as a system for processing and storing information. These experiments prove that we will be able to replace the current electro-magnetic process with a magnetic interaction between molecules of MPc,” said Dr Heutz.

Dr Heutz says it could take a further five years to practically apply this technology. When the refinements are complete she believes exploiting MPc molecules will have enormous benefits in the development of ‘spintronics’ - a process which relies on the spin of atoms or molecules to store trillions of bits of information per square inch.

She also believes these molecular interactions have the potential to process ‘qubits’ of information in quantum computing. According to current theories, quantum computing is expected to harness the properties of quantum mechanics to perform tasks that classical computers cannot do in a reasonable time.

“We are still a long way off from applying this technology to the home PC. However, in five years time our experiments will demonstrate that we will have the power to unleash the vast potential of information processing at the molecular level,” she said.

This research was published in Advanced Materials and was carried out by the London Centre for Nanotechnology - a joint enterprise between Imperial College London and University College London. It was funded by the Royal Society (Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship and Wolfson Research Merit Award); Research Councils UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Colin Smith | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

nachricht Green Light for Galaxy Europe
15.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>