Directing Spintronic TrafficCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 30, 2012 12:52PM
Quantum mechanical spin is a very interesting phenomenon. Despite its name being the same as a motion in classical mechanics, there is actually no analogy between any classical phenomenon and spin. It is also something that may be central to quantum computers as a particle can be in a superposition of spins. Now researchers at MIT have discovered a spin-diode that could be very useful for future technologies.
The researchers carefully observed particles inside of an ultracold gas of lithium atoms. At such a low temperature, quantum mechanics rules the particles' behaviors. What the researchers found is that the velocity of the particles seemed to determine their spin with the atoms moving quickly to the left having one spin and those moving quickly to the right having the opposite spin. (The atoms not moving in either direction very quickly would spin in both directions.) This ability to have a material link velocity to spin could prove very useful as a way to regulate spin currents.
Sadly the method the researchers used to cause this may not be applicable to many other materials, such as solids. Still, this shows the link exists and without a doubt, other researchers are going to try to bring it out in as many materials as they can.