Here's a link to an article recently published in Fortune magazine. If just a bit of the predictions are true, NVEC stock is going to go into the stratosphere. It's great that NVEC owns patents to fundamental aspects of spintronic technology.
For me, I'll be happy if it funds my early retirement and the college educations of my kids!
Quantum leap Brain prosthetics. Telepathy. Punctual flights. A futurist's vision of where quantum computers will take us.
Science fiction, right? Sure - just like satellites, moon shots, and the original microprocessor once were. To scientists on the quantum computing frontier, this scenario is conservative.
"The age of computing has not even begun," says Stan Williams, a research scientist at Hewlett-Packard (Charts). "What we have today are tiny toys not much better than an abacus. The challenge is to approach the fundamental laws of physics as closely as we can."
Traditional computing, with its ever more microscopic circuitry etched in silicon, can take us only so far: Moore's law, which dictates that the amount of computing power you can squeeze into the same space will double every 18 months, is set to run into a silicon wall by 2015. (The chief culprit is overheating, caused by electrical charges running through ever more tightly packed circuits.)
Luckily some of the world's leading research agencies and technology companies are on the case. Single electrons have been made to adjust their spin. Subatomic circuitry is within our grasp. But because the breakthroughs are hidden in esoteric journals and described in language that can give even today's savviest computer users headaches, it is easy to miss the significance of what is going on.
Tangible evidence of the quantum revolution hit the market in July, when Freescale Semiconductor, a Motorola spinoff, began commercial shipments of magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) chips. You'll probably notice MRAM first when you buy a digital camera that doesn't take any time to store a picture. Within a matter of years, your new laptop will switch on like a light.
MRAM gets its speed from something called the giant magnetoresistive effect, or GMR. Although it sounds like something out of an X-Men film, GMR has to do with the fact that if you place layers of ultrathin magnetic film on top of one another and alternate their polarity, you get resistance. That is, the electrons can be spun in one direction or the other. Electrons spin like a top or a billiard ball in some direction relative to a magnetic field. Flip the direction of the field, and the electron flips the direction of its spin. This very basic quantum effect can be used like a binary bit, its direction labeled "0" or "1" and employed to store digital information.
In conventional computing these zeroes and ones are created by switching an electric current on and off. Spins are less affected by the environment than electric charges and take longer to decay. Also, keeping an electric charge in position requires continuous power; when computers lose power, the charge goes away. With a magnetic device the memory stays put when the power shuts off.
As a bonus - and it's a fairly major bonus - if you take electricity out of the equation, you get rid of the overheating problem that is undercutting Moore's law.
The next step: putting spin to work in actual computation. A team at the University of California at Santa Barbara, led by David Awschalom, has made big progress in this direction by controlling electron spins in semiconductors and other materials a few nanometers in size. This could mean not just an end to overheating worries but the possibility of moving computer technology into the molecular realm. With molecular-level chips, a laptop could have more computing power than trillions of today's supercomputers.