A team of researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have demonstrated a new class of topological insulators that can be electrically changed making them more energy-efficient than current devices.
The insulators created are comprised of two layers; one of those layers contains the magnetic element, chromium. When an electrical current is applied, it drives spin-polarized electrons and can switch the polarity of the magnetic chromium atoms. When the polarity is switched, this action allows the device to write memory or perform calculations. The major advantage of these new insulators is that they use 1,000 times less energy to switch polarity and could lead to the development of more energy-efficient big-data processing systems and ultra-low power electronics.