A team from IBM and ETH Zurich University have directly mapped the formation of a spin helix in a semiconductor for the first time, a development that could lead to spintronics replacing electronics and smaller computing devices that are more power-efficient.
The scientists monitored the formation of the spin helix using a time-resolved scanning microscope technique. The researchers reviewed the result for a reasonable amount of time, observing the spins traveling for more than 10 micrometers.
"This control and ability to manipulate and observe the spin is an important step in the development of spin-based transistors that are electrically programmable," says researcher Gian Salis.
The idea is to control the direction electrons spin and use it to store and process data. This would use less energy, allowing for smaller batteries, and produce less heat, lessening the need for cooling systems. However, spintronics technology will need to work much closer to room temperature than the -223 degrees Celsius used by the scientists if it is to become viable in everyday systems.
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