Spintronic memory gets a breakthrough

Researchers have sussed out how to use the spin of an electron to hold information

An international group of researchers has figured out how to encode information within the spin of an electron, a technique that may one day lead to smaller, faster memory for computers.

While the idea, called Spintronics, has been investigated for well over a decade, the researchers assert their work as a breakthrough, for a number of reasons.

First, the information stays encoded for 100 seconds, a longevity previously not achieved in spintronics prototypes. Also, their approach allows the data to be encoded on phosphorus atoms, allowing data to be easily read and updated by silicon-based equipment, the kind used by today's computers.

The researchers -- from Florida State University, the University of Utah, University College London and the University of Sydney -- have published their findings in the latest issue of Science.

Using equipment from Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the researchers were able to control the magnetic character, or spin, of electrons and their nuclei they orbit. They used powerful magnetic fields to direct the spin and cold temperatures to quell the motion of the atoms.

“Finding a system compatible with silicon, the main material used in the semiconductor industry, is particularly useful as it has the potential to be incorporated into existing technology,” said Dane McCamey, one of the project's investigators, in a statement. “We could then integrate spin-based information storage and processing devices onto a single chip.”

Despite this step forward, don't expect devices to come with a sticker that reads "Spintronics Inside" anytime soon. In order to minimize the movement of the atoms, the device had to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. The surrounding magnetic fields had to be 200,000 times stronger than the Earth's own pull.

The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the state of Florida, the Australian Research Council, Britain’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, a British funding agency.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags IBMmemorypopular scienceComponents

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?