Spintronics Discovery Could Lead to Magnetic Batteries

magnetic battery from spintronics image

Photo via PhysOrg

Scientists have had spintronics in their sights for a little while now, aiming to uncover a way to use magnetism for battery power. Everyone wants better batteries, and magnetic batteries have the potential for using magnetic currents rather than electric currents. Now a breakthrough has been achieved that brings us closer to the possibility of using this phenomenon to run more efficient devices. From Science News:

Eiji Saitoh of Keio University in Yokohama, Japan, and his collaborators found that heating one side of a magnetized nickel-iron rod changes the arrangement of the electrons in the material according to their spins. These spins are the quantum-physics analogs of the south-north magnetic axes in bar magnets. In the heated rod, electrons with spins that are aligned "up," or with the material's magnetic field, tend to prefer the warmer side, while those with spins pointing in the opposite direction, or "down," tend to prefer the cooler side.

The spin-Seekbeck Effect
Called the "spin-Seebeck" effect after physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck who discovered this thermoelectric effect in the 1800s, engineers may be able to use this spinning effect to create new devices for computer chips that use these magnetic imbalances rather than electricity, which would also cut down on waste heat. Therefore, they would use less power and operate faster. Kind of a bummer for the folks at Murata who are working on ways to use laptop waste heat, but good news for all the notebook users who want better, greener batteries.

Energy Efficient Batteries and Computer Chips
With this cool breakthrough, scientists can now work on designing devices that store information magnetically and can move us towards far more efficient batteries and, thus better computer chips. Perhaps report cards for battery companies will have to be redesigned soon.

Via Science News
More on Better Batteries.
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