Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Spintronics

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Spintronics

Article excerpt

Using powerful lasers, two researchers at the University of Kansas (KU) The right jaw have discovered a new way to recognize currents of spinning electrons within a semiconductor. Hui Zhao, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and graduate student Lalani Werake research spin-based electronics, dubbed "spintronics." Their findings could lead the way to the development of superior computers and electronics. Results from their work in KU's Ultrafast Laser Lab are published in Nature Physics.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"The goal is to replace everything--from computers to memory devices--to have higher performance and less energy consumption," says Zhao. He says that future advancements to microchips would require a different approach for transmitting the sequences of ones and zeros that make up digital information.

"We have been using the charge of the electron for several decades," says Zhao. "But right now the size of each device is just 30-50 nanometers, and you don't have many atoms remaining on that tiny scale. We can't continue that way anymore because we're hitting a fundamental limit."

Instead of using the presence or absence of electronic charges, spintronics relies on the direction of an electron's rotation to convey data. "Roughly speaking, an electron can be viewed as a tiny ball that spins like a baseball," says Zhao. "The difference is that a baseball can spin at any speed, but an electron can only spin at a certain speed--either counterclockwise or clockwise. Therefore, we can use one spin state to represent 'zero' and another to represent 'one. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.