Researchers find new material that conducts unidirectional current that is structured like a honeycomb

A group of physicists led by Deepak K. Singh, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri, developed a device that would solve the major problems of every electronic device user, battery life and overheat. Singh’s team has applied for a patent for a magnetic material that employs a unique structure, a “honeycomb” lattice that exhibits distinctive electronic properties.

Alt Text: Battery Life + Researchers find a new material that conducts unidirectional current that is structured like a honeycomb
Honeycomb Structure The left shows the atomic force micrograph, exhibiting honeycomb structure pattern behind a magnetic device. The inset shows the schematic of current flow direction. On the right: electrical data reveals diode-type behavior of current flowing in one direction. The inset shows that the dissipative power is of the order of nano-watt in the current flowing direction, which is at least three orders of magnitude smaller than the semiconductor diode. Credit: Deepak Singh from the University of Missouri

Deepak K. Singh, also a Principal Investigator of the Magnetism and Superconductivity Research Laboratory at the University of Missouri, said that semiconductor diodes and amplifiers, which often are made of silicon or germanium, are vital elements in modern electronic devices. He added that a diode normally conducts current and voltage through the apparatus along only one biasing direction, but when the voltage is reversed, the current stops. This switching process costs significant energy due to dissipation, or the depletion of the power source, thus affecting battery life. By substituting the semiconductor with a magnetic system, we believed we could create an energetically useful device that consumes much less power with enhanced functionalities.

Singh’s team developed a new material that conducts unidirectional current, or currents that only flow one way. The material also has significantly less dissipative power compared to a semiconducting diode, which is usually included in electronic devices. It is a two-dimensional, nanostructured material created by depositing a magnetic alloy on the structured honeycomb template of a silicon surface.

Singh’s discovery may help reshape our understanding of battery life. Tech companies could increase the life of batteries by more than a hundred-fold and less dissipative power in computer processors could also reduce the heat generated in laptop or desktop CPUs.

Study leader, Singh, said that although more work needs to be done to develop the end product, the device could mean that a standard 5-hour charge could increase to more than a 500-hour charge. He added that the device could also act as an ‘on/off switch’ for other periphery components such as closed-circuit cameras or radio frequency attenuators, which reduces power flowing through a device. He also mentioned that he and his team have already applied for a patent to begin the process of incorporating the invention into the market.