Today’s computers and other technological gizmos operate on electronic charges, but researchers predict that a new generation of smaller, faster, more efficient devices could be developed based on another scientific concept – electronic "spin." The problem, however, is that researchers have found it challenging to control or predict spin – which keeps practical applications out of reach.
But physicists in Europe, California and at Ohio University now have found a way to manipulate the spin of an electron with a jolt of voltage from a battery, according to research findings published in the recent issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
In the new study, scientists applied voltage to the electron in a quantum dot, which is a tiny, nanometer-sized semiconductor. The burst of power changed the direction of the electron’s spin -- which can move either up or down. This also caused it to emit a small particle of light called a photon, explained Richard Warburton, a physicist with Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and lead author on the new paper.
Andrea Gibson | EurekAlert!
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