Future of electronics spun on its heels?

Aug 16, 2005

New manifestations of Einstein’s theory of special relativity may have practical industrial applications

Electron spins controlled by beams of light could pave the way for the next generation of electronic circuitry powered by magnetic properties of charges, says University of Toronto research.

A paper published in the July issue of Physical Review Letters shows how U of T researchers propose a new technique using lasers to harness the quantum mechanical attribute – spin – of particles in solids. The research solves a key obstacle to the new field of spin-based electronics or “spintronics:” how to control the spin of electrons in an energy-efficient way. “Spins of particles interact with magnetic fields like tiny bar magnets,” says Ali Najmaie, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in physics. “The challenge is to produce spin currents by aligning and sorting the motion of electrons according to their spins.”

Najmaie and co-authors, research associate Eugene Sherman and Professor John Sipe, say that a kind of light scattering –where a beam of light interacts with matter and its colour is changed– can be used to sort electrons according to their spins. The technique incorporates elements from Einstein’s theory of special relativity, quantum mechanics and symmetries of nature. “After 100 years, we’re still learning new consequences and manifestations of Einstein’s theory of special relativity,” Sherman says. Someday, cell phones and hard drives may use the spin of electrons in solids and electronics may be replaced with spintronics.

The research was funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Source: University of Toronto

Explore further: Discovery sheds light on nuclear reactor fuel behavior during a severe event

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Optical 'watermills' control spinning light

6 hours ago

Scientists at King's have built on research they conducted last year to achieve previously unseen levels of control over the travelling direction of electromagnetic wave in waveguides and proved that the ...

The journey to the other side of absolute zero

Nov 04, 2014

Absolute zero is the temperature (-273.15C) at which all motion in matter stops and is thought to be unreachable. But recent experiments using ultracold atoms have measured temperatures that are, in fact, n ...

Recommended for you

New technique allows ultrasound to penetrate bone, metal

9 hours ago

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique that allows ultrasound to penetrate bone or metal, using customized structures that offset the distortion usually caused by these ...

Taming the Boltzmann equation

12 hours ago

Physicists at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, have developed a new algorithm that is capable of solving the Boltzmann equation for systems of self-propelled particles. The new method also ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.