'Atomic sandwiches' could make computers 100X greener

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Researchers have engineered a material that could lead to a new generation of computing devices, packing in more computing power while consuming a fraction of the energy that today's electronics require. Known as a magnetoelectric multiferroic material, it combines electrical and magnetic properties at room temperature and relies on a phenomenon called "planar rumpling." The new material sandwiches together individual layers of atoms, producing a thin film with magnetic polarity that can be flipped from positive to negative or vice versa with small pulses of electricity. In the future, device-makers could use this property to store digital 0's and 1's, the binary backbone that underpins computing devices. "Before this work, there was only one other room-temperature multiferroic whose magnetic properties could be controlled by electricity," said John Heron, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, who worked on the material with researchers at Cornell University. "That electrical control is what excites electronics makers, so this is a huge step forward." Room-temperature multiferroics are a hotly pursued goal in the electronics field because they require much less power to read and write data than today's semiconductor-based devices. In addition, their data doesn't vanish when the power is shut off. Those properties could enable devices that require only brief pulses of electricity instead of the constant stream that's needed for current electronics, using an estimated 100 times less energy.

Read More: ScienceDaily


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