Orbitronics could keep silicon-based computing going after todays technology reaches its limits
For about 40 years, the semiconductor industry has been able to continually shrink the electronic components on silicon chips, packing ever more performance into computers. Now, fundamental physical limits to current technology have the industry scouring the research world for an alternative. In a paper published in the Aug. 1 online edition of Physical Review Letters (PRL), Stanford University physicists present orbitronics, an alternative to conventional electronics that could someday allow engineers to skirt a daunting limit while still using cheap, familiar silicon.
The miniaturization of the present-day chips is limited by power dissipation, says Shoucheng Zhang, a professor of physics, applied physics and, by courtesy, electrical engineering, who co-authored the PRL study. Up to 40 percent of the power in circuits is being lost in heat leakage, which he says will eventually make miniaturization a forbidding task.
Mark Shwartz | EurekAlert!
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
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