Hybrids: Computers, not just cars

A multi-university research team funded by the Department of Defense is working to combine computer memory functions typically performed by magnetic components and computer logic operations typically handled by semiconductor components into a hybrid material. The benefit would be faster and more compact machines that chow down less power and are less expensive to build.

“In this approach, the coupling between magnetic and non-magnetic components would occur via a magnetic field or flow of electron spin, which is the fundamental property of an electron and is responsible for most magnetic phenomena,” says Giovanni Vignale , a University of Missouri physics professor in the College of Arts and Science, in a statement. “The hybrid devices that we target would allow seamless integration of memory and logical function, high-speed optical communication and switching, and new sensor capabilities.”

The DoD awarded a $6.5 million grant to the University of Iowa for the project. In addition to the Iowa and Missouri schools, also working on the project are researchers from New York University, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pittsburgh.

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