Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Spintronics Challenge

If you haven't read this yet, then you should click the link PhysicsWorld has a good article on Spintronics and the challenges it still has to face in producing something that can be used. It's a good article to get you up to speed on this amazing area of study.

Because the spin of an electron can be switched from one state to another much faster than charge can be moved around a circuit, spintronic devices are expected to operate faster and produce less heat than conventional microelectronic components. One of the ultimate goals is to build a spin-based transistor that would replace conventional transistors in integrated logic circuits and memory devices, thus allowing the miniaturization trend to continue. However, spintronics also opens the door to entirely new types of device, such as a light-emitting diode (LED) that generates left or right circularly polarized light for use in encrypted communication (see "Spin-based devices"). Looking further into the future, spintronic devices could even be used as quantum bits, the units of information processed by quantum computers.

It is also interesting to note, with ties to the previous blog entry that I made on the theoretical possibility of monopoles in a strongly-correlated magnetic system, that the spin current can move separately than the charge current in certain conditions. This fractionalization is expected to occur in 1D system, and could even possibly occur in 3D system. So this area is certainly not just an active area in the possible application of it, but also a hotbed in basic, fundamental physics studies.


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