Scientists put a new spin on traditional information technology

Aug 29, 2011

Is it time for a communications paradigm shift? Scientists calculate that encoding and sending information via electron spin, instead of voltage changes, may mean tiny chips could transmit more information and consume less power.

Sending information by varying the properties of electromagnetic waves has served humanity well for more than a century, but as our steadily shrink, the signals they carry can bleed across wires and interfere with each other, presenting a barrier to further size reductions. A possible solution could be to encode ones and zeros, not with voltage, but with electron spin, and researchers have now quantified some of the benefits this fresh approach might yield.

In a paper in the AIP's journal , a team from the University of Rochester and the University of Buffalo has proposed a new communications scheme that would use silicon wires carrying a constant current to drive electrons from a transmitter to a receiver. By changing its magnetization, a contact would inject electron spin (either up or down) into the current at the transmitter end.

Over at the receiver end, a magnet would separate the current based on the spin, and a logic device would register either a one or a zero. The researchers chose because silicon's electrons hold onto their spin for longer than other semiconductors. The team calculated the bandwidth and of a model spin-communication circuit, and found it would transmit more information and use less power than circuits using existing techniques.

The researchers did find that the latency, or the time it takes information to travel from transmitter to receiver, was longer for the spin-communication circuit, but its other benefits mean the new scheme may one day shape the design of many emerging technologies.

Explore further: How the physics of champagne bubbles may help address the world's future energy needs

More information: "Silicon spin communication" by Hanan Dery et al. is published in Applied Physics Letters.

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4 /5 (5 votes)

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Yelmurc
not rated yet Aug 29, 2011
Sounds great other than the latency issue. I wonder how much more latency they are getting.
sigfpe
not rated yet Aug 29, 2011
Individual electrons move through wires at a few inches an hour. Signals transmitted the conventional way move through wires within an order of magnitude of the speed of light. But maybe they have a way to get their spin carrying electrons to move faster than that.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Aug 30, 2011
But maybe they have a way to get their spin carrying electrons to move faster than that.


Or maybe they intend to use it over short distances only, where the latencies of the transmitting and recieving electronics dominate in any case.

Inter-chip communications - because it's mighty expensive to make phone lines out of silicon.

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