This could open up a whole new range of applications. Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the core of almost every electronic device. Until now there have been no such components for magnetic fields. Physicists at the University of Innsbruck and the ÖAW Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) are now changing that, along with research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair.
Coupled magnetic elements are found in many key technologies such as electric motors, transformers, magnetic memories or MRI machines. In all of them, magnetic elements are symmetrically coupled. “The availability of a new magnetic tool like a diode might thus open a bunch of new possibilities”, Gerhard Kirchmair says in pointing to the future. For example, the efficiency of wireless charging devices could be improved, since the energy can only flow from the charging station to the device and not in the other direction.