A technique that controls the magnetic properties of a commonly used blue dye could vastly increase the power of computer processors.
iPods, CD read/writers, and other electronic devices already use the magnetic properties of materials to process and store information. The size and power of these devices has improved considerably over the years, but the current technology may soon hit a limit in the improvements that can be made.
However, Dr Sandrine Heutz, from Imperial College London’s Department of Materials, and scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, believe that the dye Metal Phthalocyanine (MPc) could provide the answer. Molecules of MPc contain a framework of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen atoms that can hold other atoms at its centre. Heutz found that when this framework surrounds copper or magnesium, the molecules act as tiny magnets that could be used to store information.
The team can finely control the interactions between these molecules by controlling the temperature and rate at which the crystals of MPc grow. Because the interactions can be controlled at a molecular level, it is hoped that the devices could store and process information using more compact chips than had previously been possible.