Aug. 30, 2006 That new personal computer is small and super fast, boasts gigabytes of memory, boots up instantly, offers a standby mode that consumes no electric power, and yet keeps programs and data instantly available in active memory. Well, maybe not quite yet.
But, a rapidly emerging field called spintronics may make such revolutionary new electronic devices a reality, according to a report scheduled for the Aug. 28 issue of the ACS's weekly newsmagazine, Chemical & Engineering News.
Senior Editor Mitch Jacoby explains that despite 50 years of progress in developing tiny semiconductor chips packed with millions of transistors, today's circuit elements operate on the same principle as 1940s-vintage transistors. They sense and respond to an electron's charge only.
Spintronics (spin-based electronics) uses an electron's angular momentum, a property associated with magnetism and classified as "spin up" or "spin down." Jacoby describes the innovations that spintronics promises, from the near-term to that futuristic quantum computer, which would encode data as multiple quantum states in addition to the "1s" and "0s" of traditional binary computing.
Fulfilling the promise of advanced electronic devices with unprecedented capabilities will require overcoming major technical challenges, including synthesizing new magnetic semiconductors and other materials with properties suited for spintronics applications, the article notes.
Reference: "Putting a spin on electronics: Potential for advanced technologies is driving search for magnetic semiconductors." Chemical & Engineering News
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