A material with superfast electrons that exhibits extremely large magnetoresistance may be suitable for use in electronic components
(June 22, 2015) It may be significantly easier to design electronic components in future. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids have discovered that the electrical resistance of a compound of niobium and phosphorus increases enormously when the material is exposed to a magnetic field. This giant magnetoresistance, which is responsible for the large storage capacity of modern hard discs, was previously known to occur in some complexly structured materials. Niobium phosphide or a material with similar properties which can be manufactured more easily could offer an alternative. The Max Planck researchers, together with colleagues from the High Field Magnet Laboratories at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and at the Radboud University in the Netherlands, published the new findings on niobium phosphide in the journal Nature Physics (DOI: 10.1038/nphys3372).
Electronic systems are expected to process and store a steadily increasing amount of data, faster and faster, and in less space. Luckily, physicists discover effects that help engineers to develop better electronic components with surprising regularity, for instance a phenomenon known as giant magnetoresistance. Modern hard discs utilize this phenomenon to significantly alter the resistance of a material by exposing it to a magnetic field. Until now, the computer industry has used various materials stacked on top of each other in a filigree structure to achieve this effect. Now, Max Planck scientists in Dresden have observed a rapid increase in resistance by a factor of 10,000 in a non-complex material, namely niobium phosphide (NbP).