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 Improved stability of plastic light-emitting diodes
19.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

nachricht Intelligent components for the power grid of the future
18.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

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: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

Scientists create innovative new 'green' concrete using graphene

24.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

24.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>