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Spintronics demonstrated in low cost materials

Engineers at the University of California, Riverside, have reported advances in spintronics that could lead to new computing and data storage technologies.

In its work, the team has developed methods of detecting signals from spintronic components made of low-cost metals and silicon. Previously spintronic devices depended on complex structures featuring rare and expensive metals, such as platinum.

In a recently published paper, assistant professor Sandeep Kumar and his colleagues reported an efficient way detect spin currents in a two-layer sandwich of silicon and the nickel-iron alloy Permalloy. Apart from being inexpensive and abundant, the materials demonstrate the spintronic effect at room temperature.

In their experiments, the team heated one side of the Permalloy-silicon bi-layer sandwich to create a temperature gradient, which generated an electrical voltage due to the spin-Seebeck effect. The engineers then found they could detect the resulting spin current in the bi-layer material due to the inverse spin-Hall effect.

According to the team, the work could have application in efficient magnetic switching in computer memories and content itsresults bring silicon to forefront of spintronics research.

Meanwhile, the researchers have shown they can demonstrate antiferromagnetism in silicon. This is said to open a pathway to commercial spintronics.

Graham Pitcher

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