The modern computer technology is based on transmitting electric charges. However it will soon become too small to be minituarized further. This leads to using the electron’s spin instead of its charge and scientists from Munich and Kyoto shows us how.
While computer technologies continue to grow and have more features, the technology of transmitting information through electrical charges is limited by its size. This leads to the fundamental size limits of semiconductor technology.
However researchers have found an alternative to fix this problem – using the spin of the electron they can increase the density of information and the functionality of the new electronics.
Together with colleagues at the Kyoto University in Japan scientists at the Walther-Meißner-Institute (WMI) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Garching are demonstrating this remarkable technology.
The two dimensional electron gas
In their experiment they demonstrated the production, transportation and detection of the electron spins in the boundary layer between the materials lanthanim aluminate and strontium-titanate. The unique of this system is that it makes a very thin electrically conduction layer forms between those two non-conductable elements – called a two dimensional electron gas.
“To achieve this we first had to surmount several technical hurdles,” says Dr Hans Hübl, scientist at the Walther-Meißner-Institute. “The two key questions were: How can spin be transferred to the two-dimensional electron gas and how can the transport be proven?”
Spin used as an information transport
They solved the problem of the spin transfer by using a magnetic contact.
The gas then transports the information to a non-magnetic contact just one micrometer next to it. It detects the spin transport by absorbing the spin, accumulating electrical energy along the way. Researchers measured this spin and allowed them to systematicaly investigate it and demonstrate the feasibility of bridging distances up to one hundred times larger than the distance of today’s transistors.
They are now searching to what degree those new electronic components can be employed using this system of materials.