Physicists have confirmed the existence of bismuth telluride, a material that promises to push aside silicon in the manufacture of faster and more efficient computer chips using a process known as Spintronics
While the search for faster computer chips continues, scientists have long known that silicon won't eventually cut it in the future of high speed computing.
Now, physicists from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have potentially found the world's successor to silicon in the use of semiconductors.
According to physicist Yulin Chen, who worked on the experiment, a new material called Bismuth Telluride can tolerate extremely high temperatures, and it is being tipped as a key material in the promising field of spintronics.
The quantum 'spin' of the electrons found in the compound springs from a relatively unknown area of science known as spintronics. This field, which has the potential to revolutionise the way we build our computers and the speed at which the data can be computed, relies on the spin on the individual electrons and the magnetic movement that causes the spinning action. By adding more states for logic bits greater storage capacities and processing power might be possible. The technique has been used in hard drives, but there are new areas of spintronics still being tested.
IBM's Racetrack memory has long been sighted as one of the most logical applications associated with spintronics.
Now, with the discovery of the bismuth telluride compound, the benefits of spintronics might be closer to becoming a reality.
Apart from providing a massive boost in computing speed, the new compound exhibits a topological insulator that enables a free flow of electrons without energy loss. That's a fairly big deal in computing terms, as most computer materials are prone to heat and can quickly lose their chemical abilities to carry and transmit electricity.