Spintronics Effect May Lead to Energy-Efficient Magnetic Batteries

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Japanese researchers have discovered that electrons will rearrange themselves according to their spins if one side of a magnetized nickel-iron rod is heated up. This “spin-Seebeck” effect could give way to magnetic batteries that will be useful in the development of spintronics devices. Such devices use magnetic currents to reduce overheating in computer chips.

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The “spin-Seebeck” effect is named after the original Seebeck effect, which was discovered in the 1800s. According to the Seebeck effect, heating one side of a conducting rod causes electrons to move towards the cooler end of the rod, ultimately leading to a voltage.

The new effect is similar, but affects electron spin.

And the “spin-Seebeck” effect isn’t just an interesting discovery— it could lead to more efficient computers. Magnetic information storage is much more energy efficient than electronic information storage since magnetic currents don’t generate waste heat (unlike electric currents). That means magnets may one day allow computer chips to become even smaller, faster, and less energy-intensive.

Photo Credit: Nature Magazine

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