Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists Build New Microscope to Study Electron Spin

23.06.2004


Current electronic technologies can’t create smaller computers and other devices because they are reaching physical limitations, so University of Arkansas scientists seek to harness an electron’s spin to create tiny machines with large memories. To do this, they have built a microscope that may allow them to be the first researchers to measure the properties of electron spin injection in conducting materials.

Paul Thibado, associate professor of physics, won a $370,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to measure the properties of a spin-based transistor using a customized, two-tip Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) system. This work builds on a previous NSF grant of $760,000, which was used to create the customized STM.

Electrons have spin in addition to charge, but in the past this property has been little used or studied. By understanding and using the different states achieved when an electron’s spin rotates, researchers could potentially increase information storage a million fold. This would allow vast quantites of information to be stored in a space the size of a sugar cube or transmitted from one tiny device to another in the blink of an eye.



Today’s transistors store information by using two different states to save data or create words on the computer. Each bit in a given piece of information—a word or a computer program—can either be “on” or “off,” meaning that the possibilities are based on two, or binary logic. However, the different states created when an electron’s spin rotates could allow researchers to increase that base number from two to 10. This would create massive information storage and transmission capabilities.

Researchers currently use STMs to inject electrons of a certain spin into a conducting material. However, they have not been able to study what happens to the electrons as they pass through the material because they would need a second STM to create a transistor, a miniature electronic switch used to power televisions, cars, radios, home appliances and computers. A traditional transistor consists of a source, a drain and a gate. When an electric field is placed on the gate, current moves from the source to the drain. Placing two STM tips next to one another won’t work—the tips remain too far apart to create a transistor.

Thibado and his colleagues proposed building a different kind of instrument, one with two STMs placed at right angles to one another. This allows the tips to get close enough—about 10 nanometers apart—to create an effective detection device. Thibado and his colleagues will use one tip to inject electrons of a certain spin into a surface, while the other acts as a detection device, reading the actual spin of the injected electrons. By applying a magnetic field, the researchers can then change the electrons’ spins, creating a field-effect transistor.

The researchers will use computer-operated nano-positioning systems to move the STM tips with nanoscale precision.

“With this instrument, we’re going to open up a whole new research area where people can study the properties of spin,” Thibado said.

First, however, the researchers must learn more about how spin works, and Thibado’s new equipment will allow that to happen. The UA team will use the modified instruments to measure the current and voltage properties of a spin-dependent transistor, examine the characteristics of the transistor at different temperatures and change the distance between the two STMs to determine the device’s effectiveness at various distances. They also will use different materials on the tip of the STMs to determine how they affect the transistor’s properties.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht TUM Agenda 2030: Combining forces for additive manufacturing
09.10.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Copper oxide photocathodes: laser experiment reveals location of efficiency loss
10.05.2019 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

14.11.2019 | Materials Sciences

Massive photons in an artificial magnetic field

14.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer Radio Technology becomes part of the worldwide Telecom Infra Project (TIP)

14.11.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>