Greener Computer Memory Possible Via Random Thermal Variations?

Believe it or not, recording and storing information requires a lot of energy from your computer, contributing in a significant way to its overall carbon footprint. A new breakthrough from researchers at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and MIT may be paving the way to greener information storage, via random thermal variations.

The breakthrough is apparently based on something that’s normally a problem for data storage: heat. At the microscopic level, the molecules and atoms of anything above absolute zero are in constant motion; magnetic memory relies on controlling and measuring the orientation of tiny magnetic particles, which is why the motion of these tiny particles can potentially scramble data. But researchers Markus Münzenberg and Jagadeesh Moodera found that applying an electrical current  that would otherwise be considered too modest to record data can still get the job done, due to the random thermal motion it generates on the molecular level, helping to orient magnetic particles.

Greener_PC_Memory

image via APS Physics

These thermal effects on magnetic memory could reduce the power required to store information, potentially helping to ensure that future PCs are a whole lot greener than they are today, according to an article published by these researchers in the latest issue of APS Physics.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.