The main component of rust is a cheap and promising material for ICT applications with low excess heating at increased speeds. This has been demonstrated by experimental and theoretical physicists of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Rembert Duine and Scott Bender from Utrecht University. Their results are published in the scientific journal Nature on 13 September.
At the moment, bits and bytes are transported and processed by means of electronical devices, such as transistors and on-chip wires. In the process, they also produce quite a lot of heat. Moreover, the speed of the information they are capable of transporting is limited. These properties are slowing down the pace of progress in the field of information technology, that needs smaller and faster devices. This Nature publication shows that a group of magnetic materials, known as antiferromagnets, present a cheap and promising alternative to information transport at higher speeds, and with less excess heating. Another advantage is that use of these materials can save precious energy.
Ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, are composed of magnetic domains that are oriented in the same direction and hence react in the same way to a magnetic field. In antiferromagnetic materials, such as rust (iron oxide), the domains are arranged in patterns that produce a magnetic field in opposite directions and cancel out each other. However, it is possible to create a magnetic wave in these materials, called a magnon. These magnons created in antiferromagnet materials can be used in ICT-applications to carry the bits and bytes.