Researchers at Aalto University have developed a new device for spintronics. The results were published in the journal Nature communications, and take a step towards the goal of using spintronics to make computer chips and devices for data processing and communication technologies that are small and powerful.
Traditional electronics use an electrical charge to perform calculations that power much of our day-to-day technology. However, engineers are unable to do electronic calculations any faster, as the moving charge creates heat, and we are at the limit of the size and speed of chips before they overheat. Because electronics cannot be scaled down, there is concern that computers may not become more powerful and cheaper at the same rate as they have been over the past 7 decades. This is where spintronics comes in.
“Spin” is a property of particles like electrons in the same way as “charge”. Researchers are excited about using rotation to perform calculations because it avoids the heating problems of today’s computer chips. “If you use spin waves, it’s a spin transfer, you don’t move the load, so you don’t create a warm-up,” says Prof. Sebastiaan van Dijken, who heads the group that wrote the article.
Magnetic materials at the nanoscale
The device made by the team is a Fabry-Perot resonator, a well-known tool in optics for creating light beams with a tightly controlled wavelength. The spin wave version performed by the researchers in this work allows them to control and filter spin waves in devices that are only a few hundred nanometers in diameter.
The devices were made by sandwiching very thin layers of materials with exotic magnetic properties on top of each other. This created a device in which the spin waves in the material would be trapped and canceled out if they were not of the desired frequency. “The concept is new, but easy to implement,” says Dr. Huajun Qin, the first author of the article, “the trick is to make good quality materials, which we have here at Aalto. The fact that it is not difficult to manufacture these devices means that we have plenty of opportunities for exciting new work.
Wireless data processing and analog computation
Problems with accelerating electronics go beyond overheating, they also lead to complications in wireless transmission, as wireless signals have to be converted from their higher frequencies to frequencies than electronic circuits. can handle. This conversion slows down the process and requires energy. Spin wave chips are capable of operating at the microwave frequencies used in mobile phone and wifi signals, which means they have a lot of potential for use in even faster wireless communication technologies and more reliable in the future.
In addition, spin waves can be used to do computation in a faster way than electronic computing at specific tasks. “Electronic computation uses ‘Boolean’ or binary logic to make calculations,” explains Professor van Dijken, “with spin waves, information is transported in the amplitude of the wave, which allows a computation. more analog style. This means that it could be very useful for specific tasks such as image processing or pattern recognition. The great thing about our system is that the size structure of it means that it should be easy to integrate into existing technology ‘
Now that the team has the resonator to filter and control the spin waves, the next steps are to create a complete circuit for them. “To build a magnetic circuit, we need to be able to guide spin waves to functional components, much like conductive electrical channels on electronic chips. We are looking to create similar structures to direct the spin waves, ”explains Dr. Qin.
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