IBM's dancing electrons create spintronics breakthrough

Scientists at IBM have announced the discovery of a new process that just might make spin transport electronics, or “spintronics” a real possibility in commercial electronics.

As you probably know, today's computing technology processes data by means of charging electrons. Unfortunately, as the circuits in our microchips become smaller and smaller, they will soon pass the point where electron flow is impossible to fully control.

The idea behind spintronics is to to use electrons’ spin rather than their charge, by getting all of the electrons in the same area of a magnetic field to spin at the same rate, which IBM described as a waltz. This stabilizes the electron flow and extends an electron’s spin duration by up to 30 times, lasting just beyond the current time it takes a 1 GHz processor to cycle.

The IBM scientists, working with scientists at European research university ETH Zurich, were able to monitor and stabilize the electrons with really short laser pulses, IBM said in a release.

The actual paper was published at Nature Physics, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Since spintronics research takes place about 40 degrees above absolute zero, the folks at IBM admit that this new technology may take a while to appear in commercially available devices.

However, when it does, they say it could not only mean maintaining increases in processing power and storage capacity, but also greater energy efficiency. These will both be good things for network administrators to have at their disposal.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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