Now a semiconductor to power computers in future

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 29 September 2010, 07:36 Hrs
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London: Your computers could soon work without electricity. Wondering how? Well researchers are working on a material which computers could use to recycle part of their own waste heat. The material, called gallium manganese arsenide, is a semiconductor.

Ohio State University researchers inform detecting an effect that can convert heat into a quantum mechanical phenomenon - known as spin - in a semiconductor.

If the phenomenon is developed, it can enable integrated circuits to run on heat, rather than electricity.

The research brings together two technologies together - thermo-electricity and spintronics. The team behind the research Joseph Heremans, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology, and Roberto Myers of the Ohio State University shared that they have been trying to combine spintronics with thermo-electronics - that is, devices that convert heat to electricity.

Heremans said, "Spintronics is considered as a possible basis for new computers in part because the technology is claimed to produce no heat. Our measurements shed light on the thermodynamics of spintronics, and may help address the validity of this claim."

The researchers are studying on how heat can be converted to spin polarization. This effect is called the spin-Seebeck effect and was first identified by researchers at Tohoku University. However, the difference was that the researchers detected the effect in a piece of metal, rather than a semiconductor.

One of the team members of the Ohio University team, Christopher Jaworski, has provided new measurements which verify the effect in a semiconductor material called gallium manganese arsenide.

Also found in the experiment was that two pieces of the material do not need to be physically connected for the effect to propagate from one to the other.

Even with these experiments giving new results related to the effect, the origin of the spin-Seebeck effect remains a mystery. The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Materials.

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