Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new logic circuit family that takes advantage of the magnetic properties associated with electron spin, and could, within the next decade, result in a computer 1 million times more power efficient than those currently being sold on the market today.
Modern-day computers are based on logic circuits using semiconductor transistors. When an increase in computer power is required, smaller transistors are required, to the point that Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can fit on an integrated circuit should double every two years due to scaling. However, when your transistors are even getting smaller, this becomes difficult.
One of the most significant challenges faced by manufacturers is the need for efficient heat dissipation. As more transistors are added, so too does the heat increase, making it all the more difficult to dissipate the heat quickly and safely.
The Northwestern University researchers have developed “spin logic circuits” that utilise the quantum physica phenomenon of spin.
“What we’ve developed is a device that can be configured in a logic circuit that is capable of performing all the necessary Boolean logic and can be cascaded to develop sophisticated function units,” said Bruce W. Wessels, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, one of the paper’s authors. “We are using ‘spintronic’ logic devices to successfully perform the same operations as a conventional CMOS circuits but with fewer devices and more computing power.”
The spin-logic circuits are created with magnetoresistive bipolar spin-transistors, recently patented by McCormick researchers. The paper was recently presented on July 5 at the International Symposium on Nanoscale Architectures held in the Netherlands.
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