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Magnetic vortex reveals key to spintronic speed limit
Date:8/28/2012

UPTON,NY -- The evolution of digital electronics is a story of miniaturization - each generation of circuitry requires less space and energy to perform the same tasks. But even as high-speed processors move into handheld smart phones, current data storage technology has a functional limit: magnetically stored digital information becomes unstable when too tightly packed. The answer to maintaining the breath-taking pace of our ongoing computer revolution may be the denser, faster, and smarter technology of spintronics.

Spintronic devices use electron spin, a subtle quantum characteristic, to write and read information. But to mobilize this emerging technology, scientists must understand exactly how to manipulate spin as a reliable carrier of computer code. Now, scientists at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have precisely measured a key parameter of electron interactions called non-adiabatic spin torque that is essential to the future development of spintronic devices. Not only does this unprecedented precision - the findings to be published in the journal Nature Communications on August 28 - guide the reading and writing of digital information, but it defines the upper limit on processing speed that may underlie a spintronic revolution.

"In the past, no one was able to measure the spin torque accurately enough for detailed comparisons of experiment and mathematical models," said Brookhaven Lab physicist Yimei Zhu. "By precisely imaging the spin orbits with a dedicated transmission electron microscope at Brookhaven, we advanced a truly fundamental understanding that has immediate implications for electronic devices. So this is quite exciting."

Speed Limits

Most prevailing technology fails to take full advantage of the electron, which features intrinsic quantum variables beyond the charge and flow driving electricity. One of these, a parameter known as spin direction, can be str
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Contact: Justin Eure
jeure@bnl.gov
631-344-2347
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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