New “spin capacitor” can store electron spin states for hours

A newly developed “spin capacitor” could pave the way for devices that consume less electricity, generate less heat and pack more data into storage that’s smaller than ever before.

The research was led by physicists at the University of Leeds and Dr Matthew Rogers, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, was one of the paper’s lead authors.

He said: “Our research shows that the devices of the future may not have to rely on magnetic hard disks. Instead, they will have spin capacitors that are operated by light, which would make them very fast, or by an electrical field, which would make they extremely energy-efficient.”

The scientists used quantum technology to create a device that could hold the spin state of electrons for hours. The ‘spin capacitor’ could then use either light or electric fields to read and write the information.

Compared to other storage methods, such as hard disks, this would be significantly more energy-efficient. It may also have the potential for storing 100 terabytes of data in a device as big as one square inch

Dr Oscar Cespedes, Associate Professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “This is a small but significant breakthrough in what could become a revolution in electronics driven by exploitation of the principles of quantum technology.

“At the moment, up to 70 per cent of the energy used in an electronic device such as a computer or mobile phone is lost as heat, and that is the energy that comes from electrons moving through the device’s circuitry.

“With quantum effects that use light and eco-friendly elements, there could be no heat loss. It means the performance of current technologies can continue to develop in a more efficient and sustainable way that requires much less power.”

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