Electrons have an intrinsic angular momentum, called spin. As a consequence, not only do they carry charge, but they also behave like tiny magnets, which can be aligned. In our everyday use of computers, however, so many electron magnets point randomly in all directions as to cancel out as a whole.
The edge currents of a topological insulator serve as a source of spin-polarized electrons. Graphics: Luis Maier
Electron microscopic image of the circuit: The semiconductor H is shown in red, the gate contacts in yellow. The picture shows a section of about three by three micrometers. Photo: Luis Maier
But if the spin were to be controlled, conventional computers might suddenly become a lot faster: In the field of so-called spintronics, the magnetic orientation of the electrons is used for information transfer, which generates much less heat than is produced by continually switching the current on and off as is required in conventional electronics.Metal and insulator at the same time: Topological insulators
Robert Emmerich | idw
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