Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Rare material key to computer advances

Rare material key to computer advances

Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington have answered fundamental questions about a rare class of materials that could lead to faster, more reliable memory storage in computers.

Dr Ben Ruck, Professor Joe Trodahl and Dr Franck Natali from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, have spent several years understanding the properties of rare-earth nitrides (RENs), thin films grown under ultra-high vacuum which are both magnetic and semiconducting.

The team is one of only a few worldwide exploring commercial applications of RENs, with two concepts already patented. They include developing the first magnetic memory storage devices based on RENs, called magnetic tunnel junctions.

A computer has two types of memory, a hard disk drive coated with magnetic material, and random-access memory (RAM) that stores data electrically, explains Dr Ruck. The issue with RAM is that it does not retain information when the host computer turns off.

“What we’re working on is a magnetic type of RAM that doesn’t disappear. Because data is retained when the power is switched off, a device can perform faster, be more versatile and use less energy. This is ideal, as an example, for cloud data storage spanning across multiple servers,” says Dr Ruck.

In collaboration with a team of researchers in France, based at the Centre for Research on Hetero-Epitaxy and Applications, which has facilities to grow pure versions of RENs, Dr Ruck and his colleagues are also in the process of testing a new way to control how RENs use electricity.

“No one has made a magnetic semi-conductor where you can truly control the electrical conductivity. Our results provide a new way to control conduction precisely, meaning you can swap a device from being magnetic to non-magnetic, surpassing existing electronics regarding speed and power consumption.”

This is a significant breakthrough for developing and constructing spintronics devices, an emerging technology where the spin of an electron is controlled to manipulate its charge.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Health: New Zealand's First ‘No Sugary Drinks’ Logo Unveiled

New Zealand’s first “no sugary drinks logo” has been unveiled at an event in Wellington... It will empower communities around New Zealand to lift their health and wellbeing and send a clear message about the damage caused by too much sugar in our diets. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news