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article imageNew way to create energy-saving electronics

By Tim Sandle     Jun 18, 2018 in Science
Scientists have discovered an alternate way of conducting electricity between transistors without energy loss. This could spur developments in energy-saving electronics and quantum computing.
The researchers are based at Rutgers University and they have devised a new way to conduct electricity between transistors without energy loss. This novel technique should lead to a new generation of low-power electronics. Furthermore, the research could assist with developments in quantum computing. The new technique is based on the use of a special mix of materials with magnetic and insulator properties.
To develop this, the physicists took chromium and vanadium as the magnetic elements and combined these with an insulator that consisted of bismuth, antimony and tellurium. The insulator is called the quantum anomalous Hall insulator. It was found that when electrons contained within this special material become aligned in one direction (much like a compass needle pointing north), this meant that an electric current could only flow along its edges in one direction.
The result of this was zero energy loss. The simplification are that it is possible for electricity to be conducted between transistors within silicon chips (as used in computers and other electronics), with far better (potentially even maximum) efficiency.
Lead researcher Professor Weida Wu, explains more: "This material, although it's much diluted in terms of magnetic properties, can still behave like a magnet and conducts electricity at low temperature without energy loss."
As to the significance of this, Professor Wu adds: "At least in principle, if you can make it work at a higher temperature, you can use it for electronic interconnections within silicon chips used in computers and other devices."
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Physics, with the research paper titled "Direct evidence of ferromagnetism in a quantum anomalous Hall system."
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