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Research shows how excess heat can power devices

Posted: 24 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:spintronics? spin wave? electrical device? excess heat? CMOS?

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have demonstrated how excess energy can be used to power electronic devices. According to them, the discovery could lead to more energy-efficient appliances and information processing devices.

The research team, led by Kang Wang, UCLA's Raytheon Professor of electrical engineering, showed how to add power to a spintronics device, which uses the spin of electrons for energy rather than their charge.

Excess heat, like that generated by extended use of a computer or other device, naturally creates what is known as a spin wave that can move a domain wall. A domain wall separates magnetic materials that point in different directions in certain magnetic devices.

If housed within the central processing unit of a computer or other electrical device, a domain wall would serve as a sort of turbine, capturing the heat from the traveling spin wave and converting it into energy, just as a turbine harnesses the power of water and converts it into electrical energy that can be used to redirect the water or serve another purpose. The captured energy can then be used to help power the electrical device.

The concept of using heat energy to move magnetic domain walls is not new, according to researchers, but this paper is the first demonstration of moving a domain wall through propagation of a spin wave.

Researchers said the capture of heat energy can serve to supplement the power provided by traditional CMOS circuits in devices from smartphones to computer servers and large electrical equipment. In the long run, the process may serve as an alternative to CMOS circuits in many devices.

The study's lead authors are UCLA postdoctoral researcher Wanjun Jiang and UCLA graduate student Pramey Upadhyaya. The principal investigator on the research is Kang Wang.

Other authors include Yaroslav Tserovnyak, UCLA associate professor physics and astronomy; Robert N. Schwartz, UCLA visiting professor of chemistry and biochemistry; UCLA postdoctoral researchers Sergiy Cherepov, Kin Wong and Jing Zhao; UCLA graduate students Li-Te Chang, Yabin Fan, Murong Lang, Mark Lewis, Yen-Ting Lin, Jianshi Tang and Minsheng Wang; and Xuezhi Zhou, a researcher at Canada's University of Manitoba.

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