For the first time a material now exists that is not only a semiconductor but also exhibits exploitable magnetic properties at room temperature. Researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, have taken the lead in an international race to find the technology of tomorrow.
Today’s computers process information using semiconductor chips and store it on magnetic discs. Tomorrow’s technology may mean that these parts merge into a single chip. This is based on the so-called ‘spin’ of electrons. Electron spin generates magnetic fields. Magnetism in iron and other magnetic materials comes from this phenomenon. This spin has a specific direction, and this direction can be exploited as a carrier of information, as ones and zeroes, when you have the equipment to influence and read the spin direction. This technology is believed to be capable of replacing a great deal of today’s electronics, and it is therefore called ‘spintronics.’
Researchers from around the world, both in industry and at universities, have been seeking to create the ‘spin transistor’ for a few years now. It has been created in labs, but only at extremely low temperatures. As recently as last winter, the temperature -100 C was hailed as a milestone in this research (Scientific American, March 2003).
Jacob Seth Fransson | alfa
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Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
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