Electronics use an electron's charge to encode information. Now, scientists are using spin instead-- and it could revolutionize everything.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

In the last 50 years we have revolutionized the world with electronics by exploiting a fundamental property of electrons: their charge. Now researchers are working towards the next leap forward in technology using another fundamental property of electrons: their spin.

The field is called spintronics, a portmanteau of spin transport electronics. The idea is to use an electron's spin in much the same way we use its charge. Electronics today encode information by using electrical currents to represent 1s and 0s. If the current is on and electrons are flowing, it represents a 1. If the current is off, it's a 0.

Electrons themselves can have spins in two orientations, up or down. So instead of on or off representing ones and zeroes, up or down spins can be used to encode information. Spintronics would have several advantages over traditional electronics. Instead of using semiconductors to control the flow of electrons, spin can be read with common materials like aluminum and copper.

This method could be faster and more reliable, since spin can be changed quickly and doesn't go away with a loss of power.  And spintronics would need less power to begin with, since it takes less energy to change an electron's spin than it does to maintain a current.

This video, "Electronics use an electron's charge to encode information. Now, scientists are using spin instead-- and it could revolutionize everything.", first appeared on seeker.com.

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