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August 14, 2012

IBM achieves spintronics memory breakthrough

IBM Research and the Solid State Physics Laboratory at ETH Zurich have developed a new method in which the spin lifetime of electrons is extended by 30 times to 1.1 nanoseconds

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Research and the Solid State Physics Laboratory at ETH Zurich have achieved a breakthrough to synchronise electrons, in which the spin lifetime of electrons is extended by 30 times to 1.1 nanoseconds, which is adequate time for a 1 GHz processor to cycle.

The research involved direct mapping of the formation of a persistent spin helix in a semiconductor, which is claimed to be the first-ever formation.

Spintronics deploys the natural spin of electrons for writing and reading the data and bits of data are characterised by altering the orientation of the electron’s axis.

The new spintronics understanding will offer scientists with an improved control over the magnetic movements within devices, while providing new possibilities for creating more energy efficient electronic equipments.

According to the researchers, electrons can spin in the similar manner as partners dancing the waltz.

IBM Research – Zurich Physics of Nanoscale Systems research group Dr. Gian Salis said if all couples start with the women facing north, after a while the rotating pairs are oriented in different directions.

"We can now lock the rotation speed of the dancers to the direction they move," Salis said.

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"This results in a perfect choreography where all the women in a certain area face the same direction.

"This control and ability to manipulate and observe the spin is an important step in the development of spin-based transistors that are electrically programmable."

The researchers have observed the formation of the spin helix through time-resolved scanning microscope technique in which ultra short laser pulses were used to monitor the development of thousands of electron spins which were formed concurrently in a verysmall spot.

Financial assistance for the research has been offered by the Swiss National Science Foundation through National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Nanoscale Sciences and NCCR Quantum Science and Technology.

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