A New Spin on Making Computers

Loraine Lawson

You see, the silicides were the problem.


If it wasn't for the silicides, silicon spintronics would be a piece of cake. But whenever you bind those ferromagnets to silicon, you can't help but get sillocides, and you know how those boogers can just play havoc with a spin-coherent current.


Yeah, well, I don't always understand my mechanic, either. So, here's a practical translation:


Physicists hope a new area of research -- spintronics -- could translate into smaller, faster and more energy-efficent computers for everybody. As NewScientistTech explains it, spintronics machines would use "logic devices based on manipulating and measuring the spin of electrons, rather than turning current on and off."


Current computer manufacturing technology is designed for silicon. And as you learned in the first paragraph, that leads to silicides, which mess up the spin and ... well, you're starting to see the problem.


But a recent demonstration by two researchers from the University of Delaware and a third from Cambridge NanoTech shows it is possible to inject spin into a silicon-based device.


The team injected electrons from a layer of aluminum into a thin layer of ferromagnet -- which is a permanent magnet -- and into a pure silicon crystal, according to Scientific America. The next step will be to determine whether the device will work at higher temperatures and with less-than-pure silicon.

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