Purdue University physicists have built a critical component for the development of quantum computers and spintronic devices, potentially bringing advances in cryptography and high-speed database searches a step closer.
atomic force micrograph
A team of researchers including Leonid P. Rokhinson has created a device that can effectively split a stream of quantum objects such as electrons into two streams according to the spin of each, herding those with "up" spin in one direction and corralling those that spin "down" in another. By producing such "spin-polarized" streams, the tiny device could become a key component in quantum computers, which have not yet left the drawing boards of the computer industry but are highly sought-after for their purported facility at cracking codes and searching large databases.
"For the first time, we have achieved spatial spin separation of the holes in gallium arsenide, the spaces that electrons leave behind as they travel through this semiconductor," said Rokhinson, who is an assistant professor of physics in Purdues School of Science. "These holes also have spin characteristics, just as particles do, and separating them according to their spin has been a great challenge. Producing this effect will be critical for the success of any spin-based electronic device, and this separation method could be one of the missing links necessary for the development of quantum computers and non-volatile memory devices." The research appears in the current issue of the journal Physics Review Letters.
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