Being able to move electrons from one place
to another more efficiently translates to more sensitive electronics that
can read information packed more closely on disk drives.
Researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo have
made their ballistic magnetoresistance device 33 times more sensitive by
shrinking its electrical contact from 40 nanometers to as small as one nanometer.
A nanometer is the length of 10 hydrogen atoms. Ballistic refers to electrons
shooting straight through nanoscale circuits rather than bouncing through
Disk drives use the change in electrical resistance caused by a
magnetic field to sense bits on a disk.
The researchers' method is 100 times more sensitive at room temperature
than any type of magnetoresistance currently being developed, paving the
way for storage devices that hold several thousand gigabits per square inch.
Today's disks hold about 50 gigabits per square inch.
The method could also be used to sense chemicals by measuring subtle
differences in electrical resistance.
Biochips that use the technology could be practical within three
years, and data storage devices in 5 to 8 years, according to the researchers.
The work appeared in the one February 6, 2003 issue of Physical
Review B. -TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH NEWS
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