Faster computers with germanium
The use of germanium – a semi-metal with a behaviour similar to tin – instead of traditional silicon, besides making data transmission faster would also offer the opportunity to code information through magnetic orientation of electrons “on command”. In practice, it is as if each particle of germanium represented an orientable “compass”, a phenomenon that would multiply the computing speed of processors very much.
This discovery was made by a team of researchers from the Department of Materials Science of the University of Milano-Bicocca, carried out in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Joannes Kepler Universität of Linz, Germany. Funded by the Cariplo Foundation and published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications, the study anticipates one of the themes of the next European flagship on quantum technologies, which will start in 2018 under the Horizon 2020 European programme.
“The study of spin physics in materials such as Germanium integrated on Silicon – said Fabio Pezzoli from Bicocca University, coordinator of the research team – can be used to develop efficient devices having a significant practical impact, such as the targeting of medicinal products, or being crucial for understanding quantum space-time; this discovery paves the way to alternatives to the miniaturization of transistors, the traditional method which can be used less and less, since it is not possible to reduce their size to infinity”.