A device material that can address both battery life and overheating has been developed by a group of physicists at the University of Missouri (MU).
The team has applied for a patent for a magnetic material that employs a unique structure – a "honeycomb" lattice that exhibits distinctive electronic properties.
"Semiconductor diodes and amplifiers, which often are made of silicon or germanium, are key elements in modern electronic devices," said Professor Deepak Singh of MU. "A diode normally conducts current and voltage through the device along only one biasing direction, but when the voltage is reversed, the current stops. This switching process costs significant energy due to dissipation, or the depletion of the power source, thus affecting battery life. By substituting the semiconductor with a magnetic system, we believed we could create an energetically effective device that consumes much less power with enhanced functionalities."
Prof. Singh's team developed a 2D nanostructured material created by depositing a magnetic alloy, or permalloy, on the honeycomb structured template of a silicon surface. The new material is said to conduct unidirectional current, or currents that only flow one way. According to the team, it also has less dissipative power compared to a semiconducting diode, which is normally included in electronic devices.
The magnetic diode paves the way for new magnetic transistors and amplifiers that dissipate very little power, therefore increasing the efficiency of the power source. The hope is that this could lead to the increase of battery life by more than a hundred-fold. Less dissipative power in computer processors could also reduce the heat generated in laptop or desktop CPUs.
"Although more works need to be done to develop the end product, the device could mean that a normal five-hour charge could increase to more than a 500-hour charge," Prof. Singh said. "The device could also act as an 'on/off switch' for other periphery components such as closed-circuit cameras or radio frequency attenuators, which reduces power flowing through a device. We have applied for a U.S. patent and have begun the process of incorporating a spin-off company to help us take the device to market."