Tunable Spin-Charge Converter Created from Common Semiconductor
Modern electronics are based on the charge of electrons, but in the future devices that operate on another property, called spin, could become the new standard. Spin is not as easy to work with though, as special materials and conditions can be required to do so. Researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz and others from around the world however have discovered how to create a spin-charge converter with gallium arsenide (GaAs) that operates at room temperature.
Part of what makes working with spin difficult is that magnetic fields are often required, as opposed to electric fields. A spin-charge converter is able to convert charge currents to spin currents and back, which would allow electric fields to be used. The catch is that previously only platinum, a rare heavy metal, had been identified as a viable material for creating a converter. By discovering that GaAs can also be used, spintronics are significantly closer to reality.
As it turns out, the advantages of GaAs are not limited to being cheaper and already widely used. The researchers found that it is possible to tune the efficiency of the converter and move the spin currents between different lanes, by varying the strength of the applied electric field.