Weird electrons could lead to slimmer laptops, mp3 players

May 7th, 2008 - 1:59 pm ICT by admin  

Melbourne, May 7 (ANI): An Australian researcher has claimed that a new class of materials invented by his team will make future gadgets work better and faster by tapping into the power of electrons.

Associate Professor Xiaolin Wang from the University of Wollongong says that because of the way its electrons spin, the material could be used for applications where information needs to be densely packed.

If Wangs work is confirmed, it could pave the way for slimmer laptops and mp3 players.

“Conventional electronics and devices use only the electron’s charge for information processing. When both spin and charge are used simultaneously, astonishing and unusual physical phenomena occur,” ABC Online quoted Wang, as saying.

The new material is a spin gapless semiconductor.

“[It's] completely different to other materials found in nature, which are generally called insulators, semiconductors and metals, he added.

Wang further explained that the key to the difference lies in the properties of the electrons, tiny, negatively charged particles found in the new material.

He said that when an electric current is applied to a normal material like a standard metal or semiconductor, its electrons move in the direction of the electric current. Once they do so, they also spin on their own axis.

Under normal circumstances, half the electrons in a material spin in one direction and half in the other. However, in the new material, all the electrons are thought to spin in the same direction.

“This is the special feature of this material. All the electrons move forward with the spin pointing in the same direction, Wang said.

Based on theoretical calculations, Wang has shown that a type of lead-platinum-oxide compound will have these properties. The team has already identified a special property of this material that relates to the spin of the electrons.

Significantly, Wang has also shown that in theory it would be a simple matter to control the number of electrons and direction of their spin in this new material.

“We can change the spin direction by changing the external conditions such as temperature or electric current,” he said.

Wang’s theoretical research is published in the journal Physical Review Letters. (ANI)

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