Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spintronics - breakthroughs for next generation electronics

27.04.2005


Traditional silicon chips in computers and other electronic devices control the flow of electrical current by modifying the positive or negative charge of different parts of each tiny circuit. However it is also possible to use of the mysterious magnetic properties of electrons - know as “spin” - to control the movement of currents. Many large companies have spent millions of dollars trying to solve some of the problems faced by this technology, but progress has remained slow. Discoveries made in Oxford solve several of the most difficult problems and open up this exciting new world of possibilities.



Central to the success of modern electronics is the transistor. A transistor is a switch that controls the flow of electrical current. A modern computer chip contains many millions of tiny transistors; each acting as a tiny switch where a small current is used to control the flow of a larger current.

A spin transistor uses the spin properties of the electrons within it, to control the flow of a current. The big advantage of this approach is that the spin (or magnetic state) of a transistor can be set and then will not change, so unlike a normal electrical circuit that requires a continuous supply of power, a spin transistor remains in the same magnetic state even when power is removed! Producing a spin transistor that can be included in a modern silicon chip is a significant challenge, but scientists at Oxford have developed a spin transistor that works up to 1,000 times better than previous designs making this a real possibility!


There are potential uses for spin transistors all around us. They might be used in computers for data processing, but they can also be used to produce computer memory that is super fast like RAM, but where the data remains in place when the computer is turned off just like a hard disk. This type of memory is known as Magnetic RAM, or MRAM.

MRAM is an exciting opportunity; however even once you have working spin transistors there are other problems that must to be overcome before efficient MRAM can be produced. Ironically, one of the biggest problems is actually reading data from individual components of MRAM memory. The problem might be compared to trying to read a page of small text with a large magnifying glass, where you can only read one character a time and the image is blurry with the characters on either side making it difficult to see the central character clearly.

The time taken to read a page of text this way makes the whole process unworkable, and it is the same with the “reader circuitry” currently used with MRAM. One alternative would be to shrink the magnifying glass down to the size of an individual character, but this would make identifying each character difficult, and in the same way when we try to shrink the reader circuitry for MRAM we find it no longer works!

The second breakthrough discovery made in Oxford solves this problem! It is a new type of reader circuitry that is simple, accurate and works quickly. The value of each component of MRAM can be easily read without any interference from adjacent cells, and the reader circuitry itself can be miniaturised down to the same scale as the individual units of memory. It works like having a line of lenses across a page, each the same size as an individual character, and allowing an entire line of text to be read instantly before moving on to the next one!

These two breakthroughs are protected by a series of patents, including some that are already granted. When combined together they solve many of the problems faced by the emerging area of spintronics, and represent a quantum leap forward in potential levels of performance.

Isis Innovation is the technology transfer company that helps scientists at the University of Oxford take their research out into the real world. They are currently seeking industrial partners who are also excited by this technology, and who have the resources to develop these technologies quickly into world-leading commercial products.

Kim Evans | alfa
Further information:
http://www.isis-innovation.com/licensing/1461.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

nachricht Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode
22.02.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>