Scientists have made a breakthrough in the development of a new generation of electronics that will require less power and generate less heat.
It involves exploiting the complex quantum properties of electrons - in this case, the spin state of electrons.
In a world first, the researchers - led by a team of physicists from the University of Leeds - have announced in the journal Science Advances that they have created a 'spin capacitor' that is able to generate and hold the spin state of electrons for a number of hours.
Previous attempts have only ever held the spin state for a fraction of a second.
In electronics, a capacitor holds energy in the form of electric charge. A spin capacitor is a variation on that idea: instead of holding just charge, it also stores the spin state of a group of electrons - in effect it 'freezes' the spin position of each of the electrons.
That ability to capture the spin state opens up the possibility that new devices could be developed that store information so efficiently that storage devices could get very small. A spin capacitor measuring just one square inch could store 100 Terabytes of data.
Dr Oscar Cespedes, Associate Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy who supervised the research, said: "This is a small but significant breakthrough in what could become a revolution in electronics driven by exploitation of the principles of quantum technology.
"At the moment, up to 70 per cent of the energy used in an electronic device such as a computer or mobile phone is lost as heat, and that is the energy that comes from electrons moving through the device's circuitry.
It results in huge inefficiencies and limits the capabilities and sustainability of current technologies. The carbon footprint of the internet is already similar to that of air travel and increases year on year.
"With quantum effects that use light and eco-friendly elements, there could be no heat loss. It means the performance of current technologies can continue to develop in a more efficient and sustainable way that requires much less power."
Dr Matthew Rogers, one of the lead authors, also from Leeds, commented: "Our research shows that the devices of the future may not have to rely on magnetic hard disks. Instead. They will have spin capacitors that are operated by light, which would make them very fast, or by an electrical field, which would make they extremely energy efficient.
"This is an exciting breakthrough. The application of quantum physics to electronics will result in new and novel devices."
The paper, Reversible spin storage in metal oxide--fullerene heterojunctions, can be accessed here.
How a spin capacitor works
In conventional computing, information is coded and stored as a series of bits: e.g. zeroes and ones on a hard disk. Those zeroes and ones can be represented or stored on the hard disc by changes in the polarity of tiny magnetized regions on the disc.
With quantum technology, spin capacitors could write and read information coded into the spin state of electrons by using light or electric fields.
The research team were able to develop the spin capacitor by using an advanced materials interface made of a form of carbon called buckminsterfullerene (buckyballs), manganese oxide and a cobalt magnetic electrode. The interface between the nanocarbon and the oxide is able to trap the spin state of electrons.
The time it takes for the spin state to decay has been extended 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.
The researchers used the ALBA Synchrotron in Barcelona which uses electron accelerators to produce synchrotron light that allows scientists to visualise the atomic structure of matter and to investigate its properties. Low energy muon spin spectroscopy at the Paul Scherrer Insitute in Switzerland was used to monitor local spin changes under light and electrical irradiation within billionths of a meter inside the sample. A muon is a sub-atomic particle.
The results of the experimental analysis were interpreted with the assistance of computer scientists at the UK's Science and Technical Facilities Council, home to one of the UK's most powerful supercomputers.
The scientists believe the advances they have made can be built on, most notably towards devices that are able to hold spin state for longer periods of time.
The research collaboration involved the University of Leeds, the ALBA synchrotron in Barcelona, Spain, the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland; and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council and the University of St Andrews, both in the UK. Drs. Tim Moorsom and Matthew Rogers, from Leeds, were the lead authors.
Note to Editors
For further information, please contact David Lewis in the University press office on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Images are downloadable from the University's Google drive: https:/
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 38,000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University plays a significant role in the Turing, Rosalind Franklin and Royce Institutes.
We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2020. Additionally, the University was awarded a Gold rating by the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, recognising its 'consistently outstanding' teaching and learning provision. Twenty-six of our academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships - more than any other institution in England, Northern Ireland and Wales - reflecting the excellence of our teaching.
Over a third of our academics are involved in applied research or as consultants to industry, and over the last ten years, the University of Leeds has produced more than 100 'spin-out' companies.
With images downloadable from: https:/
David Lewis | EurekAlert!
Capturing 3D microstructures in real time
03.04.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Graphene-based actuator swarm enables programmable deformation
02.04.2020 | Science China Press
Drops of water falling on or sliding over surfaces may leave behind traces of electrical charge, causing the drops to charge themselves. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz have now begun a detailed investigation into this phenomenon that accompanies us in every-day life. They developed a method to quantify the charge generation and additionally created a theoretical model to aid understanding. According to the scientists, the observed effect could be a source of generated power and an important building block for understanding frictional electricity.
Water drops sliding over non-conducting surfaces can be found everywhere in our lives: From the dripping of a coffee machine, to a rinse in the shower, to an...
90 million-year-old forest soil provides unexpected evidence for exceptionally warm climate near the South Pole in the Cretaceous
An international team of researchers led by geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have now...
The bacteria that cause tuberculosis need iron to survive. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now solved the first detailed structure of the transport protein responsible for the iron supply. When the iron transport into the bacteria is inhibited, the pathogen can no longer grow. This opens novel ways to develop targeted tuberculosis drugs.
One of the most devastating pathogens that lives inside human cells is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. According to the...
An international team with the participation of Prof. Dr. Michael Kues from the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz University Hannover has developed a new method for generating quantum-entangled photons in a spectral range of light that was previously inaccessible. The discovery can make the encryption of satellite-based communications much more secure in the future.
A 15-member research team from the UK, Germany and Japan has developed a new method for generating and detecting quantum-entangled photons at a wavelength of...
Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.
The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.
02.04.2020 | Event News
26.03.2020 | Event News
23.03.2020 | Event News
03.04.2020 | Materials Sciences
03.04.2020 | Life Sciences
03.04.2020 | Life Sciences