New Magnetoelectric Chips can Power More Efficient Computing Devices

Jacob Goings

A team led by researchers from the University of Michigan has created a material that is 2x more magnetostrictive than other materials with the same use. This new material doesn’t have to be used only for computing chips. It can also be used to improve things like magnetic sensors for security and medical devices.

If you didn’t know, magnetostriction is the deformation of magnetic material when exposed to a magnetic field. An example of this could be the humming of electrical transformers or fluorescent lights.

When the material’s shape changes, the magnetic field in turn starts to change. This property could allow researchers to reach a new generation of computing devices, which would be called magnetoelectrics.

If magnetoelectric chips were made, they would decrease the energy consumption of things like cell phones and even data centers, which would then make them much more energy-efficient. Then the electricity requirements of the world’s computing infrastructure would greatly decrease.

These new magnetoelectric devices would use magnetic fields to store digital binary data, instead of electricity. These devices would use very tiny pulses of electricity to change size, which then makes the magnetic fields flip from negative to positive, and then from positive to negative.

These devices actually use only a fraction of the energy that regular electronic devices would use, and that’s because they don’t require a constant stream of electricity.

John Heron, a science and engineering professor from the University of Michigan, says that normally, magnetoelectric materials use very rare elements to be created, which are very costly. But Heron and his team found a way to use iron and gallium (very in-expensive elements) to get high amounts of magnetostriction.

This means that magnetoelectric materials have the potential to be cheaperĀ and more efficient than current electronic materials in the future. “That sounds really cool,” says Colin Hill, a junior at Lakewood High School.