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January 25, 2011

Spintronic monolayer graphene and spintronic graphene nanoribbons

1. Graphene and ‘spintronics’ combo looks promising

Graphene, a two-dimensional crystalline form of carbon, is being touted as a sort of “Holy Grail” of materials. It boasts properties such as a breaking strength 200 times greater than steel and, of great interest to the semiconductor and data storage industries, electric currents that can blaze through it 100 times faster than in silicon.

Spintronic devices are being hotly pursued because they promise to be smaller, more versatile, and much faster than today’s electronics. “Spin” is a quantum mechanical property that arises when a particle’s intrinsic rotational momentum creates a tiny magnetic field. And spin has a direction, either “up” or “down.”

It is, however, difficult to generate a spin current in graphene, which would be a key part of carrying information in a graphene spintronic device. Chan and colleagues came up with a method to do just that. It involves using spin splitting in monolayer graphene generated by ferromagnetic proximity effect and adiabatic (a process that is slow compared to the speed of the electrons in the device) quantum pumping. They can control the degree of polarization of the spin current by varying the Fermi energy (the level in the distribution of electron energies in a solid at which a quantum state is equally likely to be occupied or empty), which they say is very important for meeting various application requirements.





Applied Physics letters - Spin current generation by adiabatic pumping in monolayer graphene

We propose a method of generating spin currents in monolayer graphene through adiabatic quantum pumping by two oscillating potentials. Spin splitting is induced in the graphene layer by ferromagnetic proximity. The pumped charge and spin currents are sensitive functions of the Fermi energy, which can thus be used to control the degree of polarization. The predicted pumped currents are measurable using the current technology. The proposed method is useful in the development of graphene spintronics.

2. Physicists in Iran have created a spintronic device based on "armchair" graphene nanoribbons. Nanoribbons such as these could one day replace indium tin oxide -- an expensive material for which researchers have been searching for suitable substitutes.

Arxiv - A spin-filter device based on armchair graphene nanoribbons (4 pages)

Applied Physics Letters - A spin-filter device based on armchair graphene nanoribbons

The coherent spin-polarized electron transport through a zigzag-edge graphene flake (ZGF), sandwiched between two semi-infinite armchair graphene nanoribbons, is investigated by means of Landauer–Buttiker formalism. To study the edge magnetism of the ZGF, we use the half-filled Hubbard model within the Hartree–Fock approximation. The results show that the junction acts as a spin filter with high degree of spin polarization in the absence of magnetic electrodes and external fields. By applying a gate voltage the spin-filtering efficiency of this device can be effectively controlled and the spin polarization can reach values as high as 90%.

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