Spintronics: Latest in Science and Technology

IAS Prelims 2023

The word spintronics—short for spin electronics—was coined in the 1990s to describe devices that take advantage of “spin,” a quantum-mechanical property of an electron that takes only two values: spin-up and spin-down.

Spintronics research flowered following the discovery of the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect in the late 1980s.

Spintronics also known as spinelectronics or fluxtronics, is the study of the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices.

Spintronics, or spin electronics, refers to the study of the role played by electron (and more generally nuclear) spin in solid state physics, and possible devices that specifically exploit spin properties instead of or in addition to charge degrees of freedom.

Spintronics fundamentally differs from traditional electronics in that, in addition to charge state, electron spins are exploited as a further degree of freedom, with implications in the efficiency of data storage and transfer.

Spintronic systems are most often realised in dilute magnetic semiconductors (DMS) and Heusler alloys and are of particular interest in the field of quantum computing.

While there are clear advantages for introducing semiconductors in novel spintronic applications, many basic questions pertaining to combining semiconductors with other materials to produce a viable spintronic technology remain open.

In addition to the near-term studies of various spin transistors and spin transport properties of semiconductors, a long-term and ambitious subfield of spintronics is the application of electron and nuclear spins to quantum information processing and quantum computation.