ENP Newswire -
Release date- 20082013 - To satisfy the world's desire for ever more processing power, at ever diminishing energy cost, in even tinier devices, scientists are looking to spintronics (spin transport electronics) to provide the next generation of high-speed, high-efficiency electronic devices.
New research, led by a team of physicists at The
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Where conventional electronics rely only on the charge property of electrons, spintronics makes use of another fundamental quantity of electrons, termed spin.
In antiferromagnets, electron spins on adjacent atoms tend to cancel each other out. It is therefore surprising that they can perform an active role in spintronic devices. However, recent calculations and experiments have indicated a range of new physical phenomena associated with antiferromagnets, with potential memory and sensing applications. This new material, with high crystal quality and compatibility with existing semiconductors, is a promising candidate material for the new field of antiferromagnetic spintronics.
Combining logic functionality with storage capability
Most modern electronic devices are based on conventional semiconductor logic technology, which relies on the presence or absence of electrons carrying charge to operate. On the other hand many forms of memory, for example conventional hard disks, use magnetism to store data.
Dr Wadley said: 'For a long time it has been the desire of physicists and industry to combine these two properties - the logic functionality of semiconductors with the storage capability of magnets - into a single material. And this is part of what spintronics is trying to do. In spintronics you rely not only on the presence or absence of charge, but also on a fundamental quantum property of electrons called their 'spin'.'
Traditionally the team in the
From ferromagnetic to antiferromagnetic
The Nottingham team, in collaboration with the
Dr Wadley said: 'Looking at antiferromagnets as an active component of spintronic devices opens up a whole new array of material systems to explore, many of which have high critical temperatures. With CuMnAs we now have a very nice system for exploring the new field of antiferromagnetic spintronics.'
New compound grown atomic layer by atomic layer
This new compound, which is grown one atomic layer at a time, shows a number of favourable properties including a high operating temperature and compatibility with common semiconductor materials used in mainstream electronics. To establish the magnetic properties of this new material, at the atomic level, cutting-edge neutron diffraction experiments were conducted at the WISH instrument, at the ISIS neutron facility, in collaboration with Dr
The future is in a spin
Spintronics offers the possibility of lower power consumption which enables higher density computation and storage. And since antiferromagnets have no associated magnetic field, antiferromagnetic spintronics means individual devices do not interact with one another and in theory they can therefore be packed together even more densely.
This research was funded by the
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