Energy-efficient information technologies

Our goal: prozess big data with little energy

HZB scientists investigate basic phenomena of materials that lay the ground for future spintronics. Photo: I. Kniest

Microchips are everywhere – in smartphones, household appliances, and server farms. Information and communications technologies already represent more than ten per cent of total power consumption, and are increasing. The keystone of these devices is the microchip – densely packed, microchips require a lot of power. Heat develops and the systems must be elaborately cooled. Only one third of the energy used by computing centres is for information processing, while two third of the energy is utilised for cooling the servers.

FIT measurement

Magnetic structures


This should change in the future. The HZB is researching classes of materials that might use considerably less energy to process data. These include topological insulators, carbon-based materials like graphene, and thin-film systems made of functional metal oxides. The magnetic moments (spins) of the electrons play a crucial role in these classes of materials. The electrons themselves do not need to move. As a result, less energy is required and hardly any waste heat develops. This technology is labelled “spintronics” – parallel to the term “electronics”.