As technology marches on and the demands placed on modern machines intensify, we rely on the work of great scientific minds to make the kinds of breakthroughs that not only ensure our current standards of living are maintained, but also help humanity as a whole move on towards bigger and brighter things.
That brings us to the subject of today’s article: Light Induced Magnetoresistive Random-Access Memory or LI-RAM.
Developed by Natia Frank, who is a materials chemist based at the University of Victoria in Canada, LI-RAM is an amazing new material that has the potential to benefit technology manufacturers in a range of sectors. In particular, it is believed that LI-RAM will be extremely beneficial to smartphone producers, as it will help to make phones faster and studier, in addition to making them friendlier to the environment.
That last factor is particularly important, as LI-RAM has been produced as part of a collaborative effort focused upon reducing the amount of power consumed and heat produced by the current batch of computer processors. Not only do these two factors cause a number of environmental issues, as requiring large amounts of power means that more fossil fuels are being burned to keep them running, but they also result in the creation of something known as the “power wall”. In essence, this is something of a Catch 22, wherein the amount of heat produced and power required by current processors prevents scientists from creating new ones using the same technology that are capable of faster and more efficient processing.
So how does LI-RAM compare to the current standards. Well, for a start, it uses 10 percent less power than modern processors while also producing next to no heat. Better yet, LI-RAM is also much more structurally sound that current processors and is also capable of processing information and datasets must faster. Additionally, it is thinner than current processors, which means manufacturers enjoy more flexibility in electronics design. Its reduced power and heat consumption also means that devices using the LI-RAM processor will maintain their charge for much longer than modern devices.
How Does it Do It?
The key to LI-RAM is the use of light, rather than electricity, as a means to conduct
information. This technology not only leads to more efficient information processing, but also makes LI-RAM completely unique in its field. As Frank puts it: “The material in LI-RAM has the unusual quality of rapidly changing magnetic properties when hit with green light.”
As such, LI-RAM allows for information to be processed and stored at a molecular level, which may be the key to unlocking the concept of universal memory, which until now has been a purely hypothetical technology.
The Potential Effects of LI-RAM
According to the University of Victoria, information systems and modern technologies are now responsible for approximately 10 percent of the world’s power consumption, which means a more environmentally-friendly way to process and store information will have extremely beneficial effects for the environment.
Further, the disposal of so much current technology results in the creation of millions of tonnes of environmental waste, which again causes environmental issues. Having a processor that is capable of so much could potentially reduce the amount of waste created by the disposal of such technologies, while also saving consumers money by reducing the need to constantly upgrade devices to take advantage of advances in traditional processing and storage technology.
Better yet, LI-RAM has far more uses than just smartphone production. According to Frank, the technology may yet prove useful in an array of other devices. While data storage for computers, smartphones, and other electronics appears to be the priority, Frank believes that with additional research and some adaptation, it could be used elsewhere. Frank states: “Potentially, this material could have other uses in medical imaging, solar cells and a range of nanotechnologie.”
As Frank puts it, this really is just the beginning. LI-RAM represents a breakthrough that benefits so many different areas of the technology sector that its important really can’t be understated. The patent for the technology has already been filed alongside Green Center Canada, which has named LI-RAM as one of its top achievements throughout all of 2016.
So When Might We See It?
Of course, given that LI-RAM is still in the early stages of development it would be somewhat impractical to think that the technology will be implemented into devices right away.
Having said that, Frank and his team is already working on ways to optimize the technology. In collaboration with a number of major electronics manufacturers, he is refining LI-RAM so that it can be used effectively in the devices that we all take for granted. In all, it is estimated that we may actually start to see LI-RAM processors in commercial technologies at some point within the next 10 years.