Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A novel platform for future spintronic technologies

13.10.2014

Spintronics is an emerging field of technology where devices work by manipulating the spin of electrons rather than their charge.

The field can bring significant advantages to computer technology, combining higher speeds with lower energy consumption. Spintronic circuits need ways to control electron spin without interference from electron charge.

Scientists at EPFL, working with Université Paris-Sud and Paul Scherrer Institut, have discovered that a common insulating material behaves as a perfect spintronic conductor because it is not affected by background electron charge. In addition, the material's properties make it an ideal platform for directly observing a strange subatomic particle that could one day lead to a different, more stable type of quantum computers.

Spintronics

Spintronics (spin-transport or spin-based electronics) is a technology that exploits a quantum property of electrons called spin. Although difficult to describe in everyday terms, electron spin can be loosely compared to the rotation of a planet or a spinning top around its axis.

Spin exists in either of two directions: "up" or "down", which can be described respectively as the clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation of the electron around its axis. Ultimately, spin is what gives electrons their magnetic properties, influencing the way they behave when they enter a magnetic field.

The different directions of electron spin can be used to encode information, much like the binary code used in digital communication. Spintronics can therefore open up a new generation of devices that combine conventional microelectronics with spin-dependent effects, overcoming the limitations of today's electronics like speed and energy consumption.

The main challenge is being able to actually control electron spin, turning "up" or "down" as needed. This can be achieved with certain materials, but the problem is that these are often susceptible to interference from the charge of electrons.

An ideal material for spintronics

The team of Hugo Dil at EPFL, working with scientists from Paris and the PSI, has shown that a transparent insulating material, which normally does not conduct electrical charge, shows spin-dependent properties. The scientists used a method called SARPES, which has been perfected by Hugo Dil's group. The data showed that the electron gas at the surface of strontium titanate (SrTiO3) is spin-polarized, which means that it could be used to control the spin of electrons.

"This is interesting because it is the first evidence of a large spin polarization effect on a truly insulating substrate", says Hugo Dil. The discovery has significant implications for the future of spintronics, because it can lead to the development of spin-polarized materials that are not susceptible to interference from non spin-polarized electrical charge, allowing for finer and better control of electron spin.

A new particle for a different kind of quantum computer

Beyond spintronics, this insulating material might also be important for quantum computing, as it could be used to directly observe an elusive, strange particle called the Majorana fermion. This particle is unique because it actually is its own antiparticle as well.

Sometimes referred to as the "ghost particle", the Majorana fermion has zero energy, zero moment, zero spin, and, so far, has never been observed unambiguously. In the future, Majorana fermions could become the foundation for a different kind of quantum computer that would, in theory, be exceptionally stable, as it would not be susceptible to external interference and noise.

###

This work represents an equal collaboration between Hugo Dil's group at EPFL (ICMP-SOIS), a group from the Université Paris-Sud (CSNSM & CNRS/IN2P3), and experts at Paul Scherrer Institut (Swiss Light Source).

Reference

Santander-Syro AF, Fortuna F, Bareille C, Rödel TC, Landolt G, Plumb NC, Dil JH, Radović M. Giant spin splitting of the two-dimensional electron gas at the surface of SrTiO3. Nature Materials DOI: 10.1038/nmat4107

Nik Papageorgiou | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.epfl.ch

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds
20.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>