The science of materials that do not exist

Published on 10/10/2019

Jorge Íñiguez is neither a magician nor an alchemist nor a clairvoyant. However, he knows how to predict the properties of materials that do not exist (yet). Jorge Íñiguez is a researcher at LIST who works with Intel on ferroic materials, a family of materials whose properties are modified when subjected to various effects – elasticity, magnetism, electricity, etc.

Creating the third generation of electronic chips

In 2018, LIST entered into a partnership with the Semiconductor Research Corporation and Intel, the world's leading semiconductor manufacturer. The aim is to work on magnetoelectric materials with low power consumption, in order to create the third generation (from today) of electronic chips.

How does it work?

The magnetic state of a material can be altered by a magnetic field, which makes it possible to modify the material properties and create magnetic memories and other logic devices. However, in order to generate a magnetic field, an electric current is necessary, which requires a lot of energy and generates heat. It is also difficult to miniaturise it.

The aim of the project led by LIST and Intel is to identify materials that allow us to reduce both the required voltage and the heat that is generated, resulting in lower energy consumption. In order to achieve this, the idea is to use an electric field rather than a constant current.

Unique areas of expertise at LIST

Jorge Íñiguez studies the core phenomena at work in physical systems, particularly at the level of atoms and electrons. This is all done exclusively by computer: experimentation will take place at a later stage and at the premises of our partner, in this case Intel. LIST has developed computerised simulation methods that are highly accurate and operate on a sufficiently large scale: "For this type of innovation, we are unique," says Jorge Íñiguez . In fact, Intel chose LIST after discovering an article published in 2014 by Jorge and collaborators in Nature magazine, one of the oldest and most highly-respected scientific journals in the world. Another superb example of the excellence of our researchers: a real asset for our industrial partners.

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