What is Spintronics?
(General introduction for non experts in the field)
Think about soccer. ⚽️.
A big gate. 🥅.
It's the penalty kick❗️.
The goal keeper, 🤾♂️, is standing in his 🥅.
And...we make a rule! 📜 - the player is not allowed to kick curved balls.
The ball would then go only in straight lines 📐 making an easy job for the goalkeeper.
Now, think instead, of the case where the player also adds spin to the ball. He will then be able to get a curved kick or any other nicely “photographed” kick, 📸.
He’ll be able now to maneuver the ball around the goal keeper.
The additional spinning degree of freedom adds more tricks the player can play to help him get his goal.🏆🏆🏆.
A similar thing happens in spintronics 💡.
The electron has two properties. Charge and Spin.
We all know what the charge is - we’ve been taught from school days of how electrons run in the leads of a circuit and accumulate at one plate of a capacitor and the voltage increases consequently.
The spin can be "kind of" imagined, 💭, as the spinning of the electron about its axis.
Today’s circuits take advantage only of one degree of freedom - the charge. This is basically how microprocessor computing units work and that has not changed since the early invention of the semiconductor transistor❗️ (by Bardeen🧓, Shockley 🧓, and Brattain 🤵🏼)
But the electron has more detail – it “spins”‼️ And it does it indefinitely.
In Spintronics we make use of this additional degree of freedom that was given to us by nature, 🏕, to make smarter circuits which consume less power, are faster, and that can store more data.
Imagine using a phone and not needing to charge 🔋 for a month, or taking video, 📹, without ever worrying 😱 about the available memory space because you would have infinitely large amount of it.
This is what we are trying to do with this new technology. Put the spin into work, and it works! The enormous data stored on the cloud, ⛅️, Youtube, WhatsApp, Google, ... is all stored using spintronics technology.
But there is another big thing - Spintronics works on the atomic level - our devices can be as small as one or two atoms thick and that allows to interleave logic with memory.
Today's electrical circuit are split to memory and calculation unit. In contrast, the human brain does not work like that. In the human brain, logic and memory are interleaved.
The atomic resolution of spintronics allows to start dreaming 🙆🏼♀️ , on really imitating the architecture of the human mind. So that’s actually a small thing!
By now you probably understand what we are about: applications, high-end technology, material sciences, nano technology, and fundamental quantum mechanics.
"So, it is obviously not a question of, "whether", but a question of “when”, will we gain full control over the electron to kick it in curved trajectories."
Rachel and Selim Benin
School of Computer Science and Engineering
Applied Physics Dept.
Edmond J. Safra Campus