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August 14, 2012

IBM boffins create consistent electron spin inside semiconductors

If your a daily visitor at BeginnersTech then you will notice that this article isn’t part our usual repertoire. Basically we cannot resist any type of tech, especially one that that allows us to process information at higher rates i.e. gaming.

IBM Research is the first to synchronize electron spins and image the formation of a persistent spin helix. – Spintronics could enable a new class of magnetic-based semiconductor transistors resulting in more energy efficient electronic devices.

A fundamental challenge of developing spintronics,or computing where the rotation of electrons carries instructions and other data rather than the charge, has been getting the electrons to spin for long enough to shuttle data to its destination in the first place.

IBM and ETH Zurich claim to be the first achieving that feat by getting the electrons to dance to the same tune. Basing a semiconductor material on gallium arsenide and bringing the temperature to an extremely low -387F, the research duo have created a persistent spin helix that keeps the spin going for the 1.1 nanoseconds it would take a normal 1GHz processor to run through its full cycle, or 30 times longer than before. As impressive as it can be to stretch atomic physics that far, just remember that the theory is some distance from practice: unless you’re really keen on running a computer at temperatures just a few hops away from absolute zero, there’s work to be done on producing transistors (let alone processors) that safely run in the climate of the family den. Assuming that’s within the realm of possibility, though, we could eventually see computers that wring much more performance per watt out of one of the most basic elements of nature.

By Jonny Polea

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Source – Nature Physics

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Jonny Polea

Editor in Chief at Beginners Tech

I joined Beginners Tech as a Technical Journalist in July 2012 and have never looked back. I love tech, gadgets, games and electronics; whether they are retro, current or future concepts. My loving fiancé Sarah has said that when I receive new items for review I’m like a kid in a toy shop – unable to leave it alone for two minutes! Coming from a design background, I am passionate about the design and aesthetics of tech as well as functionality.