The team of researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were making a close study of nanoscale materials when they discovered some commendable features in complex materials that could really help the microprocessors in moving ahead of present day silicon-chips. The study revealed that a one crystal of complex oxide material is capable of behaving like a multi-component electrical circuit when restricted to nanoscales and microscales. This kind of behaviour is shown by these materials because of a special feature of specific complex oxides that are under phase separation. Under this process, small regions in material showcase some very different magnetic and electronic properties.
This also means that distinct nano level regions in a complex oxide material can turn itself into a self-organized circuit element that will easily support the advanced multifunctional computing frameworks. The corresponding author of this study, Zac Ward from ORNL, adds, “Within a single piece of material, there are coexisting pockets of different magnetic and/or electronic behaviors. What was interesting in this study was that we found we can use those phases to act like circuit elements. The fact that it is possible to also move these elements around offers the intriguing opportunity of creating rewritable circuitry in the material.”
Since the phases give response to both electrical and magnetic fields, this material can be administered in several ways that brings about the possibility for advanced computer chips. Wars further adds, “It’s a new way of thinking about electronics, where you don’t just have electrical fields switching off and on for your bits. This is not going for raw power. It’s looking to explore completely different approaches towards multifunctional architectures where integration of multiple outside stimuli can be done in a single material.”
Since the complete computing industry is desperate to move ahead of silicon-based chips, the ORNL development shows that the phase separated substances can bring the required change. Unlike the chips that take up single roles, the multifunctional chips are capable of taking care of numerous inputs and commands that are customized as per the need and demands of a distinct application. He further adds, “The new approach aims to increase performance by developing hardware around intended applications. This means that materials and architectures driving supercomputers, desktops, and smartphones, which each have very different needs, would no longer be forced to follow a one-chip-fits-all approach.”
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