August 30, 2006

Spintronics at room temperature

MIT research scientist Jagadeesh Moodera and his team have developed a material that works for spintronics at room temperature and is easy to create. The material is indium oxide, which is similar to the material used to conduct charge in an ATM's touch screen, with a small amount of chromium added to make it magnetic. Other materials that might work, Moodera says, include zinc oxide, widely used in sunscreen, and titanium oxide. The magnetic semiconductor would polarize the spin of the electrons, which then flow into the silicon chip where circuits would use them to perform calculations, while a detector, probably made of the same material as the spin injector, would read them as they flow out.

The material needs more development before it can be tested in an actual circuit. But Don Heiman, a professor of physics at Northeastern University, calls the creation of a magnetic semiconductor that works at room temperature "a pretty big breakthrough."


Jonathan Pugh said...

Neat. Sounds like we are one step closer on this one.

So what do you think about spintronics vs. nanotubes for computing? Which could give more computing power? Which would use less electrical power? Which do you think will show up first?

Great blog.

bw said...

I think that hybrid nanotube / semiconductors will have an impact first. Nantero has partnered with LSI logic ad others and is supposed to launch NRAM in 2007. The room temp spintronics seems to be about 5 years away. Spintronics is a big area. By some definitions it is already here in hard drive read/write heads.

I think spintronics will have a bigger and broader impact on computing than nanotubes. Nanotubes will have their biggest impact on high strength structural material and perhaps in transmission of electricity. Nanotubes will impact electronics in general more but I currently see less potential in computing specifically. I think molecular electronics will eventually use other molecules for computing that will be more effective than nanotubes. Nanotube being only one class (although an important one) out of a whole universe of molecules.

NRAM will save the charge and make RAM not require energy to maintain memory.

The broad definition of spintronics is electronics that takes advantage of the spin characteristic of electrons. that is a pretty basic effect. Ultimately as big as electronics the use of electron charge. Especially big if that method becomes a leading way to perform large scale quantum computing.