It's the first time the intrinsic properties of a semiconductor—not external electric or magnetic fields–have been used to achieve the effect. The findings, published this week in Nature, could have implications for the development of so called 'spintronic' circuits: systems that use the directional spin of electrons to store and process data.
"The need to use high-frequency external fields to control spin is one of the major stumbling blocks in using electrons for information processing, or in a spintronic circuit," notes Joshua Folk, principal investigator on the project and Canada Research Chair in the Physics of Nanostructures. "We show that the spin of electrons can be controlled without external fields, simply by designing the right circuit geometry and letting electrons move freely through it."
The new technique uses the natural interactions of the electrons within the semiconductor micro-channel to control their spin--a technique that is a major step, but not yet flexible enough for industrial applications, notes Folk, an Assistant Professor with Physics and Astronomy who came to UBC via the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Electronic systems that use the spin of an electron--a quantum mechanical property that comes in two varieties: up or down--would work similarly to today's transistors, but be smaller and use less energy.
Presently, electrical charge alone is responsible for the logic functions in circuits. Power consumption by these circuits is the primary roadblock to faster, more powerful processors. A spintronic circuit has the potential to use less power by storing and manipulating a bit of information as electron spin.
Spintronic circuits may also be a viable avenue for building quantum information processing devices. The exponentially faster processing possible with such a device could have applications ranging from code breaking, to dramatically improved drug design, to simulations of complex processes in molecular systems.
Next steps by Folk and his team—working with colleagues at the Universität Regensburg in Germany—will include using new devices to gain more precise control over the alignment and trajectory of the electrons.
Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH
To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences