Japanese researchers said they had developed the technology to stop power being consumed by personal computers, televisions and other electronic devices when they are in standby mode.
NEC Corp and Tohoku University said they aim to bring the new semiconductor technology into practical use within five years, potentially reducing the estimated 2% of household electricty wasted through the standby mode.
Currently, electronic devices that are plugged into power outlets receive a constant flow of electricity to hold data - even when switched off.
The new technology is based on "spintronics" which exploits the intrinsic spin of electrons and its associated magnetic moment. Electrons act as magnets that can read and write data.
The data is retained even if the flow of electricity is completely cut off. NEC said it hoped that the new technology would help cut power consumption by "around 25% at large data centres" equipped with many computers.