A new breakthrough in switch technology has been demonstrated by researchers at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Working with multiferroics - materials in which electric and magnetic properties can coexist - the team believes it has found a way to turn their electric and magnetic properties on and off by using electric fields.
"Our demonstration opens the door to merging magnetoelectrics and magnetoelectronics at room temperature," said research leader Ramamoorthy Ramesh.
"Electric fields are much more useful control parameters because you can easily apply a voltage across a sample and modulate it as needed," he added.
It is hoped the breakthrough could lead to smaller, faster and more versatile computers through the anticipated development of memory chips that store data through electron spin and its magnetic moment rather than electron charge.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently revealed a simple recipe to create complex molecular machines that can be programmed to rotate, switch and perform mechanical work.