Spintronics may represent the future of technology as they enable extremely low power devices to be made and data to be stored on incredibly small scales. Before that technology can be realized though we need to find materials with the right properties and can be cheaply produced. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have made an important step towards that by confirming theories about silicon nanoribbons.
Bulk silicon is not magnetic, which would make it useless for spintronic purposes, but theories had predicted that the edges of silicon nanoribbons would have antiferromagnetic atoms. This means that the spins of the atoms would point in opposite directions, to cancel each other out. That opposing alignment though can be used to represent spintronic 0's and 1's, like how electric charges represent electronic 0's and 1's.
Though it may not be silicon nanoribbons, like these, that will be used in spintronic computers, this research may lead to whatever is used as it opens up possibilities for studying low-dimensional magnetism. Ultimately this and similar research could lead to single-spin devices, which would be at the limit of high-density data storage.