Researchers at RIKEN and the University of Tokyo claim that the there may be a way to build semiconductors that do not leak any power at all.
While it is key in today's semiconductor research to contain leaking current, researchers said that a switch to a more exotic semiconductor, a magnetic topological insulator, can achieve the goal of ultimate power efficiency, at least as far as power supply is concerned.
Their work is based on a finding from 1980, the quantum Hall effect, which can facilitate dissipationless electricity channels, if magnets 100,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field help channel the stream of electrons. Instead of relying on such massive magnets, the scientists discovered that they can use a material's own magnetic properties to achieve the same result. The researchers say the Dirac fermions of the magnetic topological insulator interact with magnetic ions, transporting current and behaving as if they have zero mass and enabling the transfer of current without leaking current. Prototype devices that prove the theory have been created by the team.
Of course, it's not a free lunch, either. The transistors only work in "cryogenic" conditions, but there is hope that the temperature requirement can be softened to take these transistors into the commercial market.