In any computer’s hard drive, magnetic fields spin electrons this way or that. Now physicists have demonstrated that an electric field can do the same when applied to electrons in semiconductors. And unlike the older magnetic approach, their new device, called a spin gate, is capable of easily imparting a range of spin values. The team’s results, described in a report appearing today in the journal Nature, may one day help to scientists realize the ideal of spintronics—quantum computing based on electron spin states rather than charge.
David Awschalom of the University of Californa at Santa Barbara and colleagues trapped electrons in a seminconductor device made of layered gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide. By carefully adjusting the distribution of electron-transmitting aluminum across the device, they were able to create an energy barrier with sloping sides like a valley, instead of the usual box shape. When the researchers applied a voltage to the setup, the valley walls tilted like a seesaw. As electrons crossed from one material to the other through the well, quantum mechanical effects altered their spins according to how positive or negative the field was. "It’s a scalable, controllable way to manipulate the electron’s spin at the nanometer scale," Awschalom says. "Most schemes for quantum information processing require you to electrically tune the spin of the electron."
He adds that the very difficult next step would be to find a way to bind together the spin states of multiple electrons within these wells. But meeting this goal will require a lot of new physics, he says. "These devices will be a lab in which we can explore this physics."
JR Minkel | Scientific American
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Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
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With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
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Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
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