Future computers to generate their own power through heat

29 September 2010

A dog with his 'computer processor', this morning

Ever sat watching the telly with your laptop on your knee feeling your thighs cook as the wheezing, ailing fan farts out warm air?

Well, there's good news. No. Computers won't get cooler, but rather, they will be able to convert their own heat into power apparently.

Scientists at Ohio State University reckon that computer processors will be able to run on heat rather than electricity.

It's all got something to do with their experiments with a semiconductor material called gallium manganese arsenide (yes, we smirked at it as well) which, and here comes the boffinspeak, see heat able to be converted into a phenomenon known as “spin”, which affects the way electrons are lined up.

Clever people are working to develop a systems that harnesses the spin of electrons to read and write data in a process called 'spintronics'. The Ohio team have discovered something that they're calling 'thermo-spintronics' which will convert heat to electron spin which will power your computer.

Right?

“Spintronics is considered as a possible basis for new computers in part because the technology is claimed to produce no heat,” said team leader Joseph Heremans. “Our measurements shed light on the thermodynamics of spintronics, and may help address the validity of this claim.”

Right.

[PC Pro]

TOPICS:   Technology

10 comments

  • PokeHerPete
    THE MACHINES ARE COMING!
  • The B.
    More interesting is the fact that they're using the same principle (electron spin) in order to store data, basically, if data can be represented as 1's or 0's then you can use spin direction (left or right) to hold the value, meaning that the size of storage devices would reduce drastically, only thing is that it's very much in it's infancy.
  • Fowlet
    The media's ability to dumb down and completely misinterpret scientific findings never ceases to amaze me. Congratulations sir, you have missed the point spectacularly.
  • MyOtherUserNameIsAFerrari
    Didnt read the article, but are you telling me that we can power computers just from the heat of Dogs? This is amazing.
  • Mark C.
    @Fowlet - not being sarcastic, but genuinely interested - what *is* the important scientific implication of this research?
  • Paul C.
    Agreed Mark C. Perhaps its the age old theorum that we can utilise our waste energy and convert it into reusable sources. Much like methane production. *PARP*
  • Captain C.
    So you put on your feet to warm your thighs?? I presume that you sit on it if you want your head warming up then!!!
  • Tom
    Seebeck units or Peltier unit will already do this.
  • Junkyard
    @ Mark C - it's using the "spin" of an electron instead of its charge to represent information. This could potentially result in smaller, more efficient processors. In short, it's sod-all to do with how you power a computer, more a way to make them more powerful.
  • Junkyard
    Well, that killed the discussion. Sorry guys.

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