Researchers working on the room temperature spintronics (SPIN) research project are the first in Europe to successfully produce GaMnN layers, which are ferromagnetic at room temperature. The layer properties were examined using electric, optic, x-ray and positron measurements. The Academy-funded SPIN project is comprised of four participating entities, i.e. the Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) Departments of Electron Physics, Optoelectronics and Physics laboratories and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Microelectronics research institute.
Headed by Dr Markku Sopanen, the SPIN project focuses on the research of manganese-doped gallium arsenide and gallium nitride. Gallium nitride is the most promising material for use in spintronics components which are operated at room temperature. The project also produced the first GaMnAs tunneling diode component, whose electrical properties are closely dependent on magnetic fields. High-speed tunneling diodes are used in, for example, microwave technologies.
Previously, ferromagnetic III-V semiconductors that functioned at room temperature were a completely unknown entity. Advances made in recent years have increased the ranks of ferromagnetic semiconductors with such compounds as GaMnAs clusters, InMnAs and GaMnN, whose Curie temperature is considerably higher than room temperature. Ferromagnetic III-V semiconductors are among the most interesting new material sectors in electronics and optoelectronics. These materials have a wide range of possible applications, in which the spin of electrons is used in electronic components. Examples include magnetic storage devices, magnetic field sensors, magnetically-controlled devices, spin transistors, polarisation-controlled optoelectronics devices and even quantum computing.
Terhi Loukiainen | alfa
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