Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicists capture first images of atomic spin

Date:
April 26, 2010
Source:
Ohio University
Summary:
Though scientists argue that the emerging technology of spintronics may trump conventional electronics for building the next generation of faster, smaller, more efficient computers and high-tech devices, no one has actually seen the spin -- a quantum mechanical property of electrons--in individual atoms until now. In a new study, physicists present the first images of spin in action.

The different shape and appearance of these individual cobalt atoms is caused by the different spin directions.
Credit: Image courtesy Saw-Wai Hla, Ohio University

Though scientists argue that the emerging technology of spintronics may trump conventional electronics for building the next generation of faster, smaller, more efficient computers and high-tech devices, no one has actually seen the spin -- a quantum mechanical property of electrons -- in individual atoms until now.

In a study published as an Advance Online Publication in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, physicists at Ohio University and the University of Hamburg in Germany present the first images of spin in action.

The researchers used a custom-built microscope with an iron-coated tip to manipulate cobalt atoms on a plate of manganese. Through scanning tunneling microscopy, the team repositioned individual cobalt atoms on a surface that changed the direction of the electrons' spin. Images captured by the scientists showed that the atoms appeared as a single protrusion if the spin direction was upward, and as double protrusions with equal heights when the spin direction was downward.

The study suggests that scientists can observe and manipulate spin, a finding that may impact future development of nanoscale magnetic storage, quantum computers and spintronic devices.

"Different directions in spin can mean different states for data storage," said Saw-Wai Hla, an associate professor of physics and astronomy in Ohio University's Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute and one of the primary investigators on the study. "The memory devices of current computers involve tens of thousands of atoms. In the future, we may be able to use one atom and change the power of the computer by the thousands."

Unlike electronic devices, which give off heat, spintronic-based devices are expected to experience less power dissipation.

The experiments were conducted in an ultra-high vacuum at the low temperature of 10 Kelvin, with the use of liquid helium. Researchers will need to observe the phenomenon at room temperature before it can be used in computer hard drives.

But the new study suggests a path to that application, said study lead author Andre Kubetzka of the University of Hamburg. To image spin direction, the team not only used a new technique but also a manganese surface with a spin that, in turn, allowed the scientists to manipulate the spin of the cobalt atoms under study.

"The combination of atom manipulation and spin sensitivity gives a new perspective of constructing atomic-scale structures and investigating their magnetic properties," Kubetzka said.

The research, which was carried out at the University of Hamburg, was supported by the German Research Foundation and a Partnership for International Collaboration and Education (PIRE) grant from National Science Foundation.

The research is the result of a collaboration among three research teams: a spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy group of Professor Roland Wiesendanger led by Kubetzka at the University of Hamburg, Germany; Hla, an expert in atom manipulation at Ohio University; and two theorists, Professor Stefan Heinze and Paolo Ferriani, now at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitδt Kiel, in Germany.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Serrate, Paolo Ferriani, Yasuo Yoshida, Saw-Wai Hla, Matthias Menzel, Kirsten von Bergmann, Stefan Heinze, Andre Kubetzka, Roland Wiesendanger. Imaging and manipulating the spin direction of individual atoms. Nature Nanotechnology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2010.64

Cite This Page:

Ohio University. "Physicists capture first images of atomic spin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426151638.htm>.
Ohio University. (2010, April 26). Physicists capture first images of atomic spin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426151638.htm
Ohio University. "Physicists capture first images of atomic spin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426151638.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) — It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins