August 8, 2006 12:01 PM PDT

Green paint made in 1700s may be gold for new tech

An obscure and unpopular artists' pigment invented in 18th century Sweden may be the key to a new generation of 21st century electronics.

Researchers at the University of Washington have announced the discovery of intriguing new properties in a paint pigment first formulated in 1780.

The scientists revealed their findings in the paper "Direct Kinetic Correlation of Carriers and Ferromagnetism in Co2+:ZnO," published in the July 21 edition of "Physical Review Letters."

The pigment, cobalt green, a semitransparent compound made by heating a mixture of zinc oxide and cobalt, has been found to have magnetic qualities that may make it suitable for a whole new family of hitherto impracticable "spintronic" devices based on the inherent magnetic nature of electrons, the researchers claim.

"This work shows there is a real effect here, and there is promise for these materials," Daniel Gamelin, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Washington and co-author of a paper describing the work, said in a statement. "The next step is to try to get these materials to interface with silicon semiconductors."

Spintronics is a form of logic and memory that relies on changing the spin of electrons--which defines their magnetic effects--instead of purely their location. In theory, this requires a lot less energy and can be a lot more stable than with conventional devices, leading to much lower power systems with much better data retention capabilities than at present. However, the physics that might lead to practical spintronic devices currently only works at an impractical minus 200 degrees Celsius.

"The big challenge is to develop materials that can perform these kinds of functions not just at cryogenic temperatures but at practical temperatures," said Gamelin. "The breakthrough with the materials we tested is that they exhibit their magnetic properties at room temperature."

The researchers' experiments on cobalt green showed that the cobalt ions could be aligned--having their electrons' spin manipulated--by the influence of extra electrons in zinc. Once those electrons were removed, the alignment persisted without cooling, making the compound one of the strongest candidates yet found for practical development.

Because development of these materials is in the early stages, it is not yet clear what their final properties will be, and their final properties will determine how they can be used, Gamelin said.

Cobalt green has been unpopular as a pigment because it's expensive given its weakness.

Rupert Goodwins of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
electron, material, researcher, Sweden, property

3 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Yeah, but I'll bet....
...RAMBUS will claim to have a patent and sue every artist that has ever used the paint for royalties.

NWLB
*******************
If AOL were the Grim Reaper, nobody on earth would ever be allowed to die.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.NWLBtech.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.NWLBtech.com</a>
Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A New Type of Solid State Electronics Needed
A Solid State Electronics that can not be destroyed by a single Hiroshima sized 20 kiloton atomic explosion 100 miles high in the Van Allen Belt, over the center of the US, is needed. Until such time, the all US silicon based electronics are vulnerable. This would include all the most important silicon based electronic controls. All aviation instruments and electronic controls, all telephone exchanges, all computers, all automotive electronic ignitions, all electronic controls for oil refinerys, chemical plants, telephone exchanges, cell phone relay towers, cell phones themselves, and so on. This Gigantic Vulnerability,now-a-days, is being ignored, the US Airforce tried to build a test plant capable of artificialy matching the Gigantic Electromagnetic Pulse produced by such a small atomic explosion, but failed; The US Air Force tried to develop a new Gaemanium Arsenide based solid state electronics, but failed. Whether national leaders, have permenantly given up or no, as long as the vulnerability remains, it will tempt opponants, open and secret to try.

After the 9/11 attack by the Allegorical Method Irrationalists, any vulnerability can be expected to be tested by an adversary.
Posted by Zeno77 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A New Type of Solid State Electronics Needed
A Solid State Electronics that can not be destroyed by a single Hiroshima sized 20 kiloton atomic explosion 100 miles high in the Van Allen Belt, over the center of the US, is needed. Until such time, the all US silicon based electronics are vulnerable. This would include all the most important silicon based electronic controls. All aviation instruments and electronic controls, all telephone exchanges, all computers, all automotive electronic ignitions, all electronic controls for oil refinerys, chemical plants, telephone exchanges, cell phone relay towers, cell phones themselves, and so on. This Gigantic Vulnerability,now-a-days, is being ignored, the US Airforce tried to build a test plant capable of artificialy matching the Gigantic Electromagnetic Pulse produced by such a small atomic explosion, but failed; The US Air Force tried to develop a new Gaemanium Arsenide based solid state electronics, but failed. Whether national leaders, have permenantly given up or no, as long as the vulnerability remains, it will tempt opponants, open and secret to try.

After the 9/11 attack by the Allegorical Method Irrationalists, any vulnerability can be expected to be tested by an adversary.
Posted by Zeno77 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.