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E-gadgets: New ways to cut power

As e-gadgets shrink in size, scientists say tech is being developed to reduce power consumption by such gadgets.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 16:06 IST

Does the battery of your mobile phone require frequent recharging?

As gadgets like cellphones and I-pods shrink in size, scientists say technology is being developed to reduce power consumption by such gadgets.

A team led by an Indian scientist, Jagadesh Moodera at Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a new material that not only increases the computing power and flexibility of these and other electronic devices, but also dramatically reduces their power consumption.

"We currently have multifunctional cellphones that act as phones, cameras and music players. Our research could create even greater multi-functionality in the future," says Jagadesh Moodera, Senior Research Scientist, Magnet Lab, MIT, in his paper about the research.

Moodera and his team have developed a magnetic semiconductor material--a chromium doped indium oxide which is seen as a major development in the field of "Spinotronics."

Spin electronics or spinotronics is the science of integrating the functionality of both charge and spin of the electrons in the computer chips for better functionality. The increase in the growth in hard disk capacity from 100 MB to 500 GB is largely credited to spinotronics.

Spintronics could also reduce the power consumption of information devices. Spin states are considered "nonvolatile," meaning they retain stored information even when the power is switched off - this is why magnetic hard drives hold information without power.

It could also could create circuits that operate similarly, storing and passing information without the need for a continuous current to retain the data.

Moodera team's work was reported in the April issue of Nature Materials.

"The beauty of spin electronic devices is that they can integrate several functionalities like optical, electrical and magnetic properties on a single chip," says John Philip, another Indian scientist in Moodera's team.

Talking about his team's invention, Moodera says that it's ability to inject spin at room temperature and its compatibility with silicon makes it particularly useful. "Its optical transparency means it also could find applications in solar cells and touch panel circuitry" says Moodera.

"We have shown that Cr doped Indium oxide is a magnetic semiconductor and it retains its magnetic behavior even at room temperatures," says, John Philip, another Indian scientist in Moodera's team.

Infact Indians are in the forefront of spinotronics. The spin based field effect transistor or spin-FET is actually proposed by two Indians--Supriyo Datta and B Das and it is called Datta-Das Transistor.

First Published: May 30, 2006 11:38 IST