Researchers propose a way to translate electron's magnetic spin to electric signals

Physicists from the University of Arizona (UA) propose a way to translate the elusive magnetic spin of electrons into easily measurable electric signals. They say that this is a key step in the development of Spintronics computers. Their research (based on theoretical calculations controlled by numerical simulations) proposes a protocol using existing technology and requiring only small magnetic fields to measure the spin of electrons. They use a nanoscale structure known as a quantum point contact and place a small magnetic field around it that allows them to measure the spin.

Philippe Jacquod (an associate professor) says that if you want to understand the concept of spintronics, it helps to picture each electron as a tiny magnet. "Every electron has a certain mass, a certain charge and a certain magnetic moment, or as we physicists call it, a spin," he said. "The electron is not physically spinning around, but it has a magnetic north pole and a magnetic south pole. Its spin depends on which pole is pointing up.". In the image above, you see a magnet (left) compared to an electron (right), surrounded by a magnetic field.

Posted: Jun 21,2011 by Ron Mertens