New Quantum Materials May Take Computers Beyond Semiconductor Era
(Phys.org) Researchers from Intel Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley, are looking beyond current transistor technology and preparing the way for a new type of memory and logic circuit. They have been focusing on multiferroics and spin-orbit materials, so-called “topological” materials with unique quantum properties. “We are looking for revolutionary and not evolutionary approaches for computing. ..bringing innovation in quantum materials to computing.” ” said Ian Young, a UC Berkeley Ph.D.Young said.
The researchers recently reported in Nature that they have reduced the voltage needed for multiferroic magneto-electric switching from 3 volts to 500 millivolts, and predict that it should be possible to reduce this to 100 millivolts: one-fifth to one-tenth that required by CMOS transistors in use today. Lower voltage means lower energy use: the total energy to switch a bit from 1 to 0 would be one-tenth to one-thirtieth of the energy required by CMOS.
The need for more energy-efficient computers is urgent. With the computer chip industry expected to expand to several trillion dollars in the next few decades, energy use by computers could skyrocket from 3 percent of all U.S. energy consumption today to 20 percent, nearly as much as today’s transportation sector.
America’s lead in making computer chips could be upstaged by semiconductor manufacturers in other countries could be compromised without these new technologies.