Massive data centres throughout the world - such as that used by Google - are responsible for three percent of global electricity use and demand is projected to treble in the next decade. A good chunk of the use is to cool down the computers. Two MacDiarmid Institute teams are researching solutions to the wasted energy use of our electronic devices.
Principal Investigator Associate Professor Ben Ruck, University of Wellington, and his team of collaborators, have combined rare earth nitrides with superconducting electronic materials to make new superconductors. These superconductors could cut the amount of electricity used by data centres by 100-fold - so down to 0.03 percent.
The team has already patented two of the superconductor materials and has more on the way. Team members are also collaborating with a US company to further develop their ideas.
The superconductivity can not only make the computers faster, but also reduce the heat and the big impact these data centres are making on the environment.Associate Professor Ben Ruck MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Victoria University of Wellington
Another team working on cooling down these mega computers is researching new ways to assemble nanowires and nanoarrays for tiny transistors. These tiny devices will be very fast while saving a lot of energy.
The field of research is called magnonics and has only emerged in the last decade. The MacDiarmid Institute project is connecting people across a multitude of disciplines – biochemistry, chemistry, materials engineering, and physics.
Magnonic devices could theoretically use less power and waste less energy than conventional electronics, while also operating at speeds way beyond anything we have today.Dr Simon Granville MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Victoria University of Wellington
You are doing something so far out there, that’s where the big breakthroughs come from.Dr Jenny Malmström MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator University of Auckland