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Researchers Develop Circuit That Runs Without a Battery

By - Source: Eurekalert | B 29 comments

A team of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University claim to have created the a circuit that requires so little energy that it does not need any batteries.

The design is able to power itself by energy that is harvested from the surrounding environment. According to a paper published in Applied Physics Letters, the circuit could lead the path to an "extremely low-power, yet high-density, non-volatile magnetic logic and memory system."

Rather than the traditional charge-based electronic switches that encode the basic 0s and 1s in computers, the researchers are leveraging the potential of spintronics and straintronics for their circuit. In spintronics, they use the natural spin of electrons to store bits of data. If they are spun one way, they store a 1, if they are spun in the other direction, they write a 1. A spin in a different direction is typically achieved by applying a magnetic field or a spin-polarized current pulse.

"During switching, spintronics uses considerably less energy than charge-based electronics," the researchers said. "However, when ramped up to usable processing speeds, much of that energy savings is lost in the mechanism through which the energy from the outside world is transferred to the magnet." To avoid this effect, the researchers propose to use a special class of composite structure called multiferroics, which includes a layer of piezoelectric material with intimate contact to a magnetostrictive nanomagnet that that changes shape in response to strain.

Electricity can generate such strain which will cause a change in the direction of magnetism, causing the electrons to spin in the opposite direction. The researchers believe that dissipated energy in this process can be as low as 0.4 attojoules, or about a billionth of a billionth of a joule. While there is no commercial product in sight that could use this technology, the researchers paint a vision of processors that "would be well suited for implantable medical devices and could run on energy harvested from the patient's body motion."

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  • 18 Hide
    CaedenV , August 19, 2011 12:13 AM
    If they are spun one way, they store a 1, if they are spun in the other direction, they write a 1.

    Well hell... that's not going to work very well
  • 13 Hide
    acadia11 , August 19, 2011 4:18 AM
    Apple patented this as soon as the article was written, too bad for the researchers.
  • 10 Hide
    gokanis , August 19, 2011 12:43 AM
    With that they can make a computer the size of the Earth at low wattage and it will produce the answer 42... Now where did I put the question I had written down?
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    CaedenV , August 19, 2011 12:13 AM
    If they are spun one way, they store a 1, if they are spun in the other direction, they write a 1.

    Well hell... that's not going to work very well
  • 2 Hide
    Travis Beane , August 19, 2011 12:24 AM
    I must admit...
    This confuses me, but it sounds cool anyways.
  • -5 Hide
    Goro , August 19, 2011 12:28 AM
    caedenv
    If they are spun one way, they store a 1, if they are spun in the other direction, they write a 1.
    Well hell... that's not going to work very well


    yea, same here...
  • 3 Hide
    bustapr , August 19, 2011 12:30 AM
    another few years of investigation and this can become really good
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , August 19, 2011 12:36 AM
    Well, at leats it sounds cool. Give them time to try and do something with it.-
  • 10 Hide
    gokanis , August 19, 2011 12:43 AM
    With that they can make a computer the size of the Earth at low wattage and it will produce the answer 42... Now where did I put the question I had written down?
  • 0 Hide
    jdwii , August 19, 2011 12:52 AM
    Quote:
    another few years of investigation and this can become really good


    Maybe in 100 years if are government does not stop it saying we could take out the electric company's like they like to do about the energy efficient engines or energy efficient car's
  • 0 Hide
    dogman_1234 , August 19, 2011 1:10 AM
    Like I always say:

    Carbon Nanotubes
    Graphene
    Magnetic switches
    This
    Memristors...

    the list goes on to what applications e can use to create the coputationsl devices of computers.

    Oh, I forgot IBM's brain-in-a-chip as well.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 19, 2011 1:21 AM
    If it can cure impotence, I'm in!
  • 5 Hide
    clonazepam , August 19, 2011 1:25 AM
    ^Dermal robo-penis powered by thrust motion?
  • 1 Hide
    ben850 , August 19, 2011 1:30 AM
    Magnets... how do they work?
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , August 19, 2011 1:32 AM
    Hmm maybe my transformers will come alive one day.
  • 7 Hide
    mman74 , August 19, 2011 1:33 AM
    Does this mean that the Matrix grid won't have to harvest humans for batteries, after we black out the sun? ... other than for kicks?
  • 2 Hide
    Vestin , August 19, 2011 1:58 AM
    mman74Does this mean that the Matrix grid won't have to harvest humans for batteries, after we black out the sun? ... other than for kicks?

    The "battery" thing was to make the movie easier for people to understand. In the original script humans were used to create an enormous neural network, basically - a giant server farm made of flesh. Which is a lot more ironic.
  • 6 Hide
    brandonjclark , August 19, 2011 2:02 AM
    So with this proc things are either a 1 or a 1? Sounds futuristic:) 
  • 2 Hide
    kikireeki , August 19, 2011 2:12 AM
    Everyday there is an invention about free energy or ultra durable batteries that works on urine, but at the end of the day batteries still suck in almost everything, cell phones, laptops, cars, you name it. and looks like this is not going to change anytime soon.
  • 13 Hide
    acadia11 , August 19, 2011 4:18 AM
    Apple patented this as soon as the article was written, too bad for the researchers.
  • 1 Hide
    Parsian , August 19, 2011 4:40 AM
    Sweet this is my field of study :p 
  • -2 Hide
    michalmierzwa , August 19, 2011 6:24 AM
    Fascinating. More likely to be used in surveillance than medical sector thou
  • 3 Hide
    junixophobia , August 19, 2011 9:52 AM
    acadia11Apple patented this as soon as the article was written, too bad for the researchers.


    and then what, they will sue us for creating energy while moving...?
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