An unpopular pigment used by artists in the 18th Century could lead to more energy efficient, faster computers.
Cobalt green, as the dye is known, has been tested by a US team who believe it could be used in “spintronic” devices.
Spintronics involves manipulating the magnetic properties of electrons to do useful computational work.
Cobalt green may be useful for building working devices as it can be used at room temperature, unlike many other materials which must be supercooled.
“The big challenge is to develop materials that can perform these kinds of functions not just at cryogenic temperatures but at practical temperatures,” said Professor Daniel Gamelin of the University of Washington in Seattle, one of the team that carried out the work.
Cobalt green, sometimes known as Rinmann’s green, is a mixture of zinc oxide and cobalt. The semi-transparent pigment was developed by the Swedish chemist Sven Rinmann in 1780.