Interface between insulators enables information transport by spin
Modern computer technology is based on the transport of electric charge in semiconductors. But this technology’s potential will be reaching its limits in the near future, since the components deployed cannot be miniaturized further. But, there is another option: using an electron’s spin, instead of its charge, to transmit information. A team of scientists from Munich and Kyoto is now demonstrating how this works.
Computers and mobile devices continue providing ever more functionality. The basis for this surge in performance has been progressively extended miniaturization. However, there are fundamental limits to the degree of miniaturization possible, meaning that arbitrary size reductions will not be possible with semiconductor technology.
Researchers around the world are thus working on alternatives. A particularly promising approach involves so-called spin electronics. This takes advantage of the fact that electrons possess, in addition to charge, angular momentum – the spin. The experts hope to use this property to increase the information density and at the same time the functionality of future electronics.
Together with colleagues at the Kyoto University in Japan scientists at the Walther-Meißner-Institute (WMI) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Garching have now demonstrated the transport of spin information at room temperature in a remarkable material system.
A unique boundary layer
In their experiment, they demonstrated the production, transport and detection of electronic spins in the boundary layer between the materials lanthanum-aluminate (LaAlO2) and strontium-titanate (SrTiO3). What makes this material system unique is that an extremely thin, electrically conducting layer forms at the interface between the two non-conducting materials: a so-called two-dimensional electron gas.
The German-Japanese team has now shown that this two-dimensional electron gas transports not only charge, but also spin. “To achieve this we first had to surmount several technical hurdles,” says Dr Hans Hübl, scientist at the Chair for Technical Physics at TUM and Deputy Director of the Walther-Meißner-Institute. “The two key questions were: How can spin be transferred to the two-dimensional electron gas and how can the transport be proven?”
Information transport via spin
The scientists solved the problem of spin transfer using a magnetic contact. Microwave radiation forces its electrons into a precession movement, analogous to the wobbling motion of a top. Just as in a top, this motion does not last forever, but rather, weakens in time – in this case by imparting its spin onto the two-dimensional electron gas.
The electron gas then transports the spin information to a non-magnetic contact located one micrometer next to the contact. The non-magnetic contact detects the spin transport by absorbing the spin, building up an electric potential in the process. Measuring this potential allowed the researchers to systematically investigate the transport of spin and demonstrate the feasibility of bridging distances up to one hundred times larger than the distance of today’s transistors.
Based on these results, the team of scientists is now researching to what extent spin electronic components with novel functionality can be implemented using this system of materials.
The research was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the context of the Cluster of Excellence “Nanosystems Initiative Munich” (NIM).
Strong evidence for d-electron spin transport at room temperature at a LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface. R. Ohshima, Y. Ando, K. Matsuzaki, T. Susaki, M. Weiler, S. Klingler, H. Huebl, E. Shikoh, T. Shinjo, S.T.B Goennenwein and M. Shiraishi. Nature Materials, Advanced Online Publication 13. Februar 2017. DOI:10.1038/nmat4857
Dr. Hans Gregor Hübl
Magnetism, Spintronics and Nano Electromechanics
Deputy Director of Walther-Meißner-Institute, Bavarian Academy of Science,
Chair for Technical Physics (E23) at Technical University of Munich
Walther-Meißner-Straße 8, 85748 Garching, Germany
Tel.: +49 89 289 14204 – E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Web: http://www.wmi.badw.de
Dr. Isabel Leicht | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Four elements make 2-D optical platform
26.09.2017 | Rice University
The material that obscures supermassive black holes
26.09.2017 | Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC)
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences
26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.09.2017 | Information Technology