Magnetic lattice material promises dramatic increase in electronic device battery life

A new magnetic lattice material developed by researchers at the University of Missouri could be used to increase the battery life of electronic devices by more than a hundred times, it is claimed.

Prof Deepak Singh, who headed up the group responsible, said that the material uses a unique “honeycomb” lattice that exhibits distinctive electronic properties.

Magnetic lattice material

L: atomic force micrograph, exhibiting honeycomb structure pattern behind a magnetic device. R: electrical data reveals diode-type behavior of current flowing in one direction. Credit: Deepak Singh

Singh’s team developed a two-dimensional, nanostructured material created by depositing a magnetic alloy, or permalloy, on the honeycomb structured template of a silicon surface. The new material conducts unidirectional current, or currents that only flow one way. The material also has significantly less dissipative power compared to a semiconducting diode, which is normally included in electronic devices.

The diode paves the way for new magnetic transistors and amplifiers that dissipate very little power, thus increasing the efficiency of the power source. This could mean that designers could increase the life of batteries by more than a hundred-fold. Less dissipative power in computer processors could also reduce the heat generated in laptop or desktop CPUs.

“Semiconductor diodes and amplifiers, which often are made of silicon or germanium, are key elements in modern electronic devices,” said Singh. “A diode normally conducts current and voltage through the device along only one biasing direction, but when the voltage is reversed, the current stops. This switching process costs significant energy due to dissipation, or the depletion of the power source, thus affecting battery life. By substituting the semiconductor with a magnetic system, we believed we could create an energetically effective device that consumes much less power with enhanced functionalities.”

He added that as well as driving huge increases in battery life, the device could also act as an ‘on/off switch’ for other periphery components such as closed-circuit cameras or radio frequency attenuators, which reduces power flowing through a device.

The group has applied for a US patent and has begun the process of incorporating a spin-off company to help take the device to market.

Studies on the work were Magnetic Diode Behavior at Room Temperature in 2D Honeycombs” and “Spin Solid versus Magnetic Charge Ordered State in Artificial Honeycomb Lattice of Connected Elements,” were published in Advanced Electronic Materials and Advanced Science, respectively.