The Benefits of Newly Discovered Magnetism Properties to Computers

Our electronic devices are on the edge of overheating because they cannot be shrunk anymore. Scientists at Copenhagen University have discovered a fundamental property of magnetism that could be useful in designing next-generation computers that are both more robust and less hot.


The constant shrinking of computer components that employ electrons as their means of data transfer has been troublesome. However, it may be possible to use magnetism to develop cheaper and more powerful computers. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) at the University of Copenhagen proposed this theory in the journal Nature Communications.


What are the Properties of Magnetism that could Help Make Computers Better?


The operation of a computer is based on the transmission of electric current via a microchip. While the current transports data, it also generates heat (albeit in small amounts), contributing to the computer’s heating. While performing numerous tasks at once, the computer transmits massive amounts of electric current inputs and outputs via these chips. As a result of the enormous number of components packed closely, heat generation becomes a concern. This heating issue is a major concern because we can’t shrink the microchip any further as we have reached the limit of how much the components can be downsized. According to Professor Kim Lefmann of NBI’s Condensed Matter Physics, a computer based on magnetism could overcome this overheating problem.


According to his statements, their discovery is not a step-by-step roadmap for creating a magnetism-based computer. Instead, they have discovered a fundamental magnetic property that can be regulated to build such a machine.


How does Magnetism Work?: Quantum Mechanics Halt Acceleration


To understand this new discovery in the magnetism field, you must first understand that magnetic substances are not always uniformly aligned. Simply speaking, places with magnetic south and north poles may coexist. These places are called domains, while the boundary between the south and north pole domains is called the domain wall (DW). Although the domain wall is not a physical object, it possesses some particle-like characteristics. As a result, it is an example of what physicists call quasi-particles or virtual phenomena that resemble particles.


Magnets are useful for creating motion because they can attract magnetic materials and attract or repel other magnets. In the same way, a magnetic field can alter the position of the domain wall. At first, the magnetic field causes the wall to react like a physical object subjected to gravity, then speeds up it until it collides with the surface below.


According to Kim Lefmann, other rules of magnetism and principles of the quantum world apply to the domain wall as well. At the quantum level, particles are objects and also possess wave-like properties. The same rule applies to a quasi-particle, which is the same for the domain wall. As per the wave properties in quantum mechanics, the acceleration of particles slows down and finally halts when they collide with atoms. Similarly, when the domain wall gets hit by the atoms in the environment, the acceleration slows down and eventually comes to a halt. This causes the wall to oscillate.


The Principle of Magnetism


According to quantum physics, electrons also have wave-like properties. When charged particles moving in periodic lattices are exposed to a constant electric field, they react by oscillating. In 1929, Nobel Laureate and American-Swiss physicist F. Bloch revealed that charged particles moving in a periodic arrangement in response to a constant electric field caused electronic oscillations. These electronic oscillations were later declared after his name, Bloch oscillations (BOs). According to his studies, the electric field produces a force that propels the particles across a zone known as the Brillouin zone. The velocity is reversed when crossing the Brillouin zone barrier, resulting in oscillatory motion. Theoretical physicists of Switzerland proposed in 1996 that a magnetic equivalent of the electrical BOs might exist.


Roughly 26 years later, in the year 2022, Professor Kim Lefmann and his colleagues proved this hypothesis. Their team investigated the motion of domain walls in the magnetic material CoCl2. 2D2O. In their experiments, the magnetic field acted as a force, attempting to align spins, accelerating the domain wall in one direction and causing oscillatory motion in the same manner as the charged particle BOs did. This proved the hypothesis of the Swiss physicists.


Kim Lefmann stated that they knew that the hypothesis might be verified for a long time, but they also knew they would need access to neutron sources. They chose neutrons for their research because they react to magnetic fields while not being electrically charged, making them perfect for magnetic studies.


Research Boost in the Magnetism Field


Although the neutron is a neutral particle, its magnetic moment is not zero. This is why electric fields do not affect neutrons, yet these subatomic particles are affected by the presence of magnetic fields. This magnetic property of neutrons makes them large-scale research equipment for studying magnetism.


Kim Lefmann believes that with ESS operational in Sweden with a potent neutron source, the environment for their magnetic research will improve considerably and the quality of the results will improve by roughly 100 times.


What are the Uses of Magnetism in Computers?


Magnetism is a vital component of several cutting-edge technologies that significantly impact our world. It is also used in various computer components, such as hard drives, cooling fans, CRT monitors and optical disk drives. As a result of this new research by Professor Kim Lefmann, magnetism will also play a crucial role in designing less hot computers, cheaper and more powerful because of this new research.


Conclusion


Quantum computers will be able to solve tough problems soon. However, for everyday computing tasks, we will still require traditional computers. Even though quantum physics was used in the research described above, a computer based on magnetism is far different from a quantum computer. It will function in the same way as a traditional computer for everyday calculation, entertainment and educational purposes, but a newly found magnetism property will power it. However, a magnetism-based computer will be a superior choice since it will be less expensive, hot and powerful than existing computers.

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