Spintronics – Integration Of Nano-Electronics And Magneto-Electronics

Introduction –

If you take a through look on recent advancements in electronics, one thing you would have found common in all is application of Nano-technology. In molecular communication we saw how molecule-sized devices are used for communication. And if we take a look at Smart Dust technology, devices the size of dust particles have embedded sensors for monitoring and controlling conditions in inaccessible areas.

Today’s blog will tell you about one more such technology, where we have gone one more step towards Nano-particles and have tried to manipulate the motion of electrons in materials. This technology is referred to as Spintronics or Fluxtronics.

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Define –

Spintronics, or spin electronics, is the study of the spin mechanism of the electrons in the solid state metals and semiconductors. It is an emerging field of Nano-Scale Electronics involving the detection and manipulation of electron spin.

It combines magnetism and electronics. The integration of magnetic properties of semiconductor materials and impurities into Nano-electronic devices gives you the ability to use the orientation of electron spin for carrying information throughout the medium.

Conventional electronic devices depended upon the transport of electrical charge carriers by electrons in a semiconductor material like silicon. With the advancement in Nano-Electronics exploiting the spin of the electrons adds an extra degree of freedom for information processing. This technique is used in various applications like accessing, storing, data transferring and processing with higher capabilities and speed or in other words, spin of electrons can be manipulated for storing and processing the information.

Working Principle –

The electronic spin of electrons can be detected by the presence of the magnetic field. The electrons in any substance spin in two directions which are referred as “Down” and “Up”. The transfer of information in any system is in the form of binary signals defined in the conventional manner as Low Logic Values and High Logic Values.

By combining the spin states with the binary information we get four possible states which are called as quantum bits. They are:

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  1. Down-Low
  2. Down-High
  3. Up-Low
  4. Up-High

All spintronic devices follows a simple scheme for transmission of information as follows:

  1. Information is stored in the devices by aligning the orientation of the electron spins as per the combination of 0’s and 1’s.
  2. The spins are attached to all mobile electrons, which travel along the wire.
  3. This information is decoded at the terminal.

Benefits –

  1. These devices consume low power and hence there is less dissipation of heat.
  2. Faster Devices as speed of spin manipulation could be increased and hence write and read speeds becomes faster.
  3. Compact Devices as storing of information takes up lesser space on chip. Hence, the storage capacity of conventional devices increases and could store more information now.
  4. No need of the specialized semiconductors. It can even be implemented with common metals like Copper, Aluminium and Silver.
  5. As the spins maintain their states even after the power is turned off, hence the memory remains non-volatile.

Challenges –

  1. The most challenging task is of the integration of techniques of conduction in semiconductor and magnetic recording properties.
  2. Electrons lose their spin state in the Silicon devices, hence the transmission of spin polarized carriers across the relevant length becomes difficult.
  3. Technique for manipulation of both the electron and nuclear spins simultaneously at a very fast time scales still needs to be developed.

Applications –

Some of the examples of the devices where you could witness the application of Spintronics Technology are:

  1. MRAM – Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory – it makes use of magnetic storage elements instead of electric used in conventional RAM.
  2. Spin Transistor – Spin transistor would allow control of spin current in the same manner that conventional transistors can switch charge currents.
  3. Quantum computer – A quantum computer works on the basis of encoding the information within the quantum bits or Qubits which can exist in a superposition of ‘0’ and ‘1’.

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The above examples clearly represent the potential of Spintronics technology. But this technology is still in its infant years and we cannot predict how this technology will evolve in its future. There are many other technologies which may become the core principles of future Spintronics devices can result in awesome developments on the basis of new advancements in Spintronics. Some of these technologies are:

  1. Nonlocal spin Injection and Magnetization Switching
  2. Spin Hall Effect
  3. Thermoelectric Transducers
  4. Voltage induced Magnetization Switchng
  5. Detection of Bio magnetic fields

Conclusion –

This new technology spintronics is a combination of magnetism, electronic transport and optics in a single device. This technology enhances the performance of the conventional devices. The problem of exhausting the fundamental physical limits of conventional electronics has become the cause of increased interest in Spintronics Technology.

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