Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Microchips From Magnets: No Transistors Needed

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have successfully created a working prototype of a microchip that uses nanoscale magnets in place of transistors.

Expanding on previous research in the field of "spintronics" or magnetoelectronics, professor Wolfgang Porod and his team have refined the process by using microscopic magnets in place of electrons themselves, which should make this kind of chip less vulnerable to outside interference among other benefits.

While devices similar in concept to these nano-magnets have already been used successfully as data storage medium, this is the first time they have been applied constructing a processor or microchip that can perform logical operations.

Potentially, chips of this type could be far more dense and powerful than transistor-based chips, and use a fraction of the power. Less space needed, with less power consumption (thus heat generation) is of course a tremendous boon for all manner of possible processor applications.

One final interesting aspect to this type of magnetic chips is their potential space technology application, since the chips would be inherently hardened against radiation, unlike conventional transistor-based processors.

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