Saturday, April 12, 2008

spintronic devices

Conventional electronic devices rely on the transport of electrical charge carriers - electrons - in a semiconductor such as silicon. Now, however, physicists are trying to exploit the 'spin' of the electron rather than its charge to create a remarkable new generation of 'spintronic' devices which will be smaller, more versatile and more robust than those currently making up silicon chips and circuit elements. The potential market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year. See Spintronics

All spintronic devices act according to the simple scheme: (1) information is stored (written) into spins as a particular spin orientation (up or down), (2) the spins, being attached to mobile electrons, carry the information along a wire, and (3) the information is read at a terminal. Spin orientation of conduction electrons survives for a relatively long time (nanoseconds, compared to tens of femtoseconds during which electron momentum decays), which makes spintronic devices particularly attractive for memory storage and magnetic sensors applications, and, potentially for quantum computing where electron spin would represent a bit (called qubit) of information. See Spintronics

Magnetoelectronics, Spin Electronics, and Spintronics are different names for the same thing: the use of electrons' spins (not just their electrical charge) in information circuits. See Magnetoelectronics, Spin Electronics, and Spintronics

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