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Data storage using spintronics

15 April 2009 News

The demand for information storage is increasing at an exponential rate, which is leading the research community to look for new avenues to encode and pack data more densely.

One of the most promising emerging technologies in this regard is spintronics, which exploits the intrinsic spin of an electron and its associated magnetic moment. Electronic components, which are sensitive to external magnetic fields, enable magnetically-encoded data to be very densely packed, making data storage solutions with higher capacities possible.

Spintronics has the potential to facilitate low-power circuits at the quantum level and promises the ability to combine communication, memory and logic on a single chip. However, one of the major challenges in achieving this goal is ensuring efficient transfer of spin in these devices. While it is understood that changing the materials would be likely to improve the efficiency of spin transfer, it is difficult to predict the effects different materials would have on the spin characteristic.

Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London and Switzerland-based Paul Scherrer Institute, have now been able to address the above challenges by becoming the first to measure how magnetic polarisation is lost. The resulting improved understanding of the workings of electronic devices using the spin degree of freedom, and the field of organic spintronics in general, finally paves the way for ensuring higher efficiencies in spin transfer, and thus for the future of spin-based electronic devices.

The researchers came out with a new depth-resolved technique for measuring the spin polarisation of current-injected electrons in an organic spin valve and found that the temperature dependence of the measured spin diffusion length was correlated to the device’s magneto-resistance. The scientists used elementary particles called muons that act as tiny magnets, to measure the magnetic field within the device.

Spin valves are usually made up of at least three layers – two magnetic layers separated by a non-magnetic one – and the team attempted to investigate how spins travel across the middle of these layers. It is believed that the research team’s findings are quite significant both to the understanding of spintronic devices, and to the eventual development of next generation data storage solutions and other novel devices and applications.

For more information contact Patrick Cairns, Frost & Sullivan, +27 (0)21 680 3274, patrick.cairns@frost.com, www.frost.com





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