Spintronics

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Spintronics (a neologism meaning "spin transport electronics"[1][2]), also known as magnetoelectronics, is an emerging technology that exploits both the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices.

Contents

History

Spintronics emerged from discoveries in the 1980s concerning spin-dependent electron transport phenomena in solid-state devices. This includes the observation of spin-polarized electron injection from a ferromagnetic metal to a normal metal by Johnson and Silsbee (1985),[3] and the discovery of giant magnetoresistance independently by Albert Fert et al.[4] and Peter Grünberg et al. (1988).[5] The origins of spintronics can be traced back even further to the ferromagnet/superconductor tunneling experiments pioneered by Meservey and Tedrow,[6] and initial experiments on magnetic tunnel junctions by Julliere in the 1970s.[7] The use of semiconductors for spintronics can be traced back at least as far as the theoretical proposal of a spin field-effect-transistor by Datta and Das in 1990.[8]

Theory

Electrons are spin-1/2 fermions and therefore constitute a two-state system with spin "up" and spin "down". To make a spintronic device, the primary requirements are, first, a system that can generate a current of spin-polarized electrons comprising more of one spin species—up or down—than the other (called a spin injector), and, secondly, a separate system sensitive to the spin polarization of the electrons (spin detector). Manipulation of the electron spin during transport between injector and detector (especially in semiconductors) via spin precession can be accomplished using real external magnetic fields or effective fields caused by spin-orbit interaction.

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