Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Semiconductor could turn heat into computing power

Joseph Heremans
Joseph Heremans

Abstract:
Computers might one day recycle part of their own waste heat, using a material being studied by researchers at Ohio State University.

Semiconductor could turn heat into computing power

Columbus, OH | Posted on September 27th, 2010

The material is a semiconductor called gallium manganese arsenide. In the early online edition of Nature Materials, researchers describe the detection of an effect that converts heat into a quantum mechanical phenomenon - known as spin - in a semiconductor.

Once developed, the effect could enable integrated circuits that run on heat, rather than electricity.

This research merges two cutting-edge technologies: thermo-electricity and spintronics, explained team leaders Joseph Heremans, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology, and Roberto Myers, assistant professor of materials science and electrical engineering at Ohio State University.

Researchers around the world are working to develop electronics that utilize the spin of electrons to read and write data. So-called "spintronics" are desirable because in principle they could store more data in less space, process data faster, and consume less power.

Myers and Heremans are trying to combine spintronics with thermo-electronics - that is, devices that convert heat to electricity.

The hybrid technology, "thermo-spintronics," would convert heat to electron spin.

In so doing, thermo-spintronics could solve two problems for the computing industry: how to remove waste heat, and how to boost computing power without creating more heat.

"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," Heremans said.

In fact, as the electronics industry tries to build smaller, denser computer circuits, a main limiting factor is the heat those circuits produce, said Myers.

"All of the computers we have now could actually run much faster than they do, but they're not allowed to - because if they did, they would fail after a short time," Myers said. "So a huge amount of money in the semiconductor industry is put toward thermal management."

In one possible use of thermo-spintronics, a device could sit atop a traditional microprocessor, and siphon waste heat away to run additional memory or computation. Myers noted that such applications are still a long way off.

The researchers studied how heat can be converted to spin polarization- an effect called the spin-Seebeck effect. It was first identified by researchers at Tohoku University and reported in a 2008 paper in the journal Nature. Those researchers detected the effect in a piece of metal, rather than a semiconductor.

The new measurements, carried out by team member Christopher Jaworski, doctoral student of mechanical engineering at Ohio State, provide the first independent verification of the effect in a semiconductor material called gallium manganese arsenide.

While gallium arsenide is a semiconductor used in cell phones today, the addition of the element manganese endows the material with magnetic properties.

Samples of this material were carefully prepared into thin single-crystal films by collaborators Shawn Mack and Professor David Awschalom at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who also assisted with interpretation of the results. Jing Yang, doctoral student of materials science and engineering at Ohio State, then processed the samples for the experiment.

In this type of material, the spins of the charges line up parallel with the orientation of the sample's overall magnetic field. So when the Ohio State researchers were trying to detect the spins of the electrons, they were really measuring whether the electrons in any particular area of the material were oriented as "spin-up" or "spin-down."

In the experiment, they heated one side of the sample, and then measured the orientations of spins on the hot side and the cool side. On the hot side, the electrons were oriented in the spin-up direction, and on the cool side, they were spin-down.

The researchers also discovered, to their own surprise, that two pieces of the material do not need to be physically connected for the effect to propagate from one to the other.

They scraped away a portion of the sample with a file, to create two pieces of material separated by a tiny gap. If the spin effect were caused by electrical conduction - that is, electrons flowing from one part of the material to the other - then the gap would block the effect from spreading. Again, they applied heat to one side.

The effect persisted.

"We figured that each piece would have its own distribution of spin-up and spin-down electrons," said Myers. "Instead, one side of the first piece was spin up, and the far side of the second piece was spin down. The effect somehow crossed the gap."

"The original spin-Seebeck detection by the Tohoku group baffled all theoreticians," Heremans added. "In this study, we've independently confirmed those measurements on a completely different material. We've proven we can get the same results as the Tohoku group, even when we take the measurements on a sample that's been separated into two pieces, so that electrons couldn't possibly pass between them."

Despite these new experiments, the origin of the spin-Seebeck effect remains a mystery.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the Ohio Eminent Scholar Discretionary Fund. Partial support was provided by The Ohio State University Institute for Materials Research.

####

Contacts:
Joseph Heremans
(614) 247-8869


Roberto Myers
(614) 292-8439


Written by
Pam Frost Gorder
(614) 292-9475

Copyright © Ohio State University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Ultra-short pulse lasers & Positioning August 21st, 2014

Malvern’s Dr Alan Rawle talks TLAs in plenary lecture at Particulate Systems Analysis conference August 21st, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Shaping the Future of Nanocrystals: Berkeley Lab Researchers Obtain First Direct Observation of Facet Formation in Nanocubes August 21st, 2014

Success in Intracellular Imaging of Cesium Distribution in Plants Used for Cesium Absorption August 19th, 2014

Electrical engineers take major step toward photonic circuits: Team invents non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to 'compress' and contain light August 19th, 2014

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices August 18th, 2014

Possible Futures

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Chip Technology

Electrical engineers take major step toward photonic circuits: Team invents non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to 'compress' and contain light August 19th, 2014

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices August 18th, 2014

AI Technology (AIT) Introduces Novel High Temperature Large Area Underfill with Proven Stress Absorption August 15th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Stabilize Protein on Highly Stable Electrode Surface August 14th, 2014

Announcements

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Malvern’s Dr Alan Rawle talks TLAs in plenary lecture at Particulate Systems Analysis conference August 21st, 2014

Water window imaging opportunity: A new theoretical study elucidates mechanisms that could help in producing coherent radiations, ultimately promoting high-contrast imaging of biological samples August 21st, 2014

Military

New material could enhance fast and accurate DNA sequencing August 13th, 2014

On the frontiers of cyborg science August 10th, 2014

Advanced thin-film technique could deliver long-lasting medication: Nanoscale, biodegradable drug-delivery method could provide a year or more of steady doses August 6th, 2014

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

Energy

Chemical reaction yields "tapes" of porphin molecules: Flexible tapes from the nanoworld August 13th, 2014

Eco-friendly 'pre-fab nanoparticles' could revolutionize nano manufacturing: UMass Amherst team invents a way to create versatile, water-soluble nano-modules August 13th, 2014

“Active” surfaces control what’s on them: Researchers develop treated surfaces that can actively control how fluids or particles move August 6th, 2014

Used-cigarette butts offer energy storage solution August 5th, 2014

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Rice physicist emerges as leader in quantum materials research: Nevidomskyy wins both NSF CAREER Award and Cottrell Scholar Award August 20th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Receives the 2014 Microscopy Today Innovation Award for blueDrive Photothermal Excitation August 18th, 2014

AQUANOVA receives Technology Leadership Award 2014 FROST & SULLIVAN honors NovaSOL® Technology again August 12th, 2014

Focal blood-brain-barrier disruption with high-frequency pulsed electric fields August 12th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE