Future devices that work on electrons spin rather than its charge ‘a step closer to reality’

Scientists are a step closer to developing devices which rely on electron spin rather than electron charge, an approach known as semiconductor spintronics that is expected to provide devices with higher performance, lower power consumption and less heat dissipation.

The researchers in the Materials Science and Technology Division of the Naval Research Laboratory have recently demonstrated electrical injection, detection and precession of spin accumulation in silicon, the cornerstone material of modern device technology, at temperatures up to 225 degrees Celsius.

These results provide the first demonstration that spin accumulation in Si is viable as a basis for practical devices which meet the operating temperatures specified for commercial (85 degree Celsius), industrial (100 degree Celsius) and military (125 degree Celsius) applications.

Using ferromagnetic metal / silicon dioxide contacts on silicon, NRL scientists Connie Li, Olaf van ””””t Erve and Berry Jonker electrically generate and detect spin accumulation and precession in the silicon transport channel at temperatures up to 225 degree Celsius, and conclude that the spin information can be transported in the silicon over distances readily compatible with existing fabrication technology.

They thus overcome a major obstacle in achieving control of the spin variable at temperatures required for practical applications in the most widely utilized semiconductor.

The complete findings of this study are published in the 22 March 2011 issue of Nature Communications.

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