New Magnetic Field ObservedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: May 22, 2013 08:32AM
Magnets are the sums of their parts, specifically electrons, as the negatively charged particles have their own small magnetic fields that can align and combine to create the larger ones we are familiar with. The directionality of the magnetic fields comes from the angular momentum or spin of the electrons, which is not related to the spin of a top, and could be used for computing purposes. Researchers at the University of Delaware have recently observed a previously predicted magnetic field which could have some very interesting impacts on future computing technologies.
Spin currents are going to be a critical part of spintronic computers as they will carry information similarly to electrical currents in modern computers. When spin currents travel through some materials though, there can be interesting effects, and the researchers discovered one of these recently. As a pure spin current flowed into a material consisting of a double layer of a heavy metal and a ferromagnetic material, the current diffuses into the ferromagnet and creates a magnetic field within it, capable of switching its magnetization. On its own, that may not seem very interesting, but this new field has the unique property of being confined to the ferromagnet; it does not extend outside of the material.
One of the issues with some spintronic and magnetic technologies is shielding, so one bit or cell does not rewrite another. As this new magnetic field stays within the material though, shielding would not be required, and that would allow for very high circuit densities.
Source: University of Delaware