Scientists promise instant on computers

framedwindowsHave time to make breakfast while you’ve switched your PC on and while you’re waiting for Windows to boot?  You may not have that luxury for that much longer.

Scientists at Cornell University think that they’ve invented a way of switching on devices without using electric currents.

The scientists have invented a room temperature magnetoelectric memory device.  Equivalent to one computer bit, it promises next generation nonvolatile memory in two steps using nothing but an electric field.

John Heron, working with physics and chemistry professors at Cornell, said: “The advantage here is low energy consumption. It requires a low voltage, without current, to switch it. Devices that use currents consume more energy and dissipate a significant amount of that energy in the form of heat.”

The device is made out of a compound called bismuth ferrite which is both magnetic and ferroelectric, called a muliferroic material.  It can be used to make non volatile memory devices with simple geometries and at room temperature. It also needs much less energy using a phenomenon called spin transfer torque and uses different physics for magnetic switching.

But it could be quite some time before you have to give up your breakfast because Windows starts immediately.  They’ll need more than just one single device for it to be viable commercially.