You know something's a long way from becoming an actual product when we're just talking about the discovery of an "effect," but a team of researchers at Keio University in Yokohama, Japan
say that the so-called "spin Seebeck effect" they've discovered could eventually have some pretty big implications for all sorts of devices. According to Science News, the researchers found that by heating one side of a magnetized nickel-iron rod they were able to change the arrangement of the electrons in the material according to their "spins," which is the quantum-physics equivalent of the south-north magnetic axes in bar magnets. One of the big advantages of that, it seems, is that, unlike with electric currents, transferring information by "flipping spins" does not generate heat, which would let "spintronics devices" operate at higher speeds without overheating, and cut down on power consumption in the process.
, image courtesy Nature