Future computers could use diamonds to make them more powerful. Far from creating diamond-studded desktop,s the precious mineral has for the first time been used in wire to transmit information.
A group of scientists from Ohio University, US, managed to demonstrate that information can flow through a diamond wire, using a process called ‘spintronics’.
The researchers found that electrons did not pass through diamond as they do in traditional electronics but rather passed along a magnetic effect called ‘spin’ – much like a crowd performing a Mexican Wave at an event.
“To a scientist, diamonds are kind of boring, unless you’re getting engaged.”
Chris Hammel, from the university, said that diamond is an effective material for transferring information by spintronics as it doesn’t hold heat, is electrically insulating and resistant to acids.
He said: “Basically [the diamond], it’s inert. You can’t do anything to it. To a scientist, diamonds are kind of boring, unless you’re getting engaged.
“But it’s interesting to think about how diamond would work in a computer.
“If this wire were part of a computer, it would transfer information. There’s no question that you’d be able to tell at the far end of the wire what the spin state of the original particle was at the beginning.”
The researchers say the discovery challenges the way spin has been studied for the last 70 years.
“If this wire were part of a computer, it would transfer information”
The experiment was the first time that spins have been able to be seen in a diamond. To be able to see the spins taking place the scientists had to cool the wire to -269°C, which slowed them down and made them visible to the technological equipment.
They also had to spike the wire with nitrogen atoms to break carbon bonds in the diamond to allow the spin to happen and pass down the wire.
One of the most promising potentials for the use of the diamond wire comes with the cost. Unlike extortionately expensive diamonds used for jewellery the wire only cost $100. The costs could also be decreased with mass production of the wire.
The reason behind the diamond wire being so cheap is due to it being made from synthetic diamond rather than naturally created diamond.
Hammel said: “The fact that spins can move like this means that the conventional way that the world measures spin dynamics on the macroscopic level has to be reconsidered—it’s actually not valid.”
The researchers’ work first appeared in the journal Nature Technology.
Image courtesy of Kim Alaniz via Flickr / Creative Commons Licence .