Physicists in the US are the first to detect the spin Hall effect at room temperature, in what could be an important development in the quest for a practical source of spin-polarized electrons for spintronic devices.

David Awschalom and colleagues at the Center for Spintronics and Computation at the University of California, Santa Barbara observed the current-induced spin-polarization of electrons and the spin Hall effect in thin surface layers of ZnSe.

The 'spin Hall' is a spin current flowing in a transverse direction to the charge current in a non-magnetic material and in the absence of an applied magnetic field. The result is a measurable accumulation of “spin up” and “spin down” electrons at opposite edges of the conducting channel. 

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