We’ve talked about wonder-material graphene a few times on this blog and its very nature means it is continually associated with the biggest and best innovation ideas coming forward.
Spintronics uses the spin of individual electrons to encode data. Impurities found in most metals limit the current range of components available, or require many thousands of electrons to make any meaningful data encode. Graphene works differently. If it can be harnessed properly the range of a Spintronics device could rapidly expand from nanometres to millimetres, making commercial applications potentially viable.
Spintronic devices are already used in some – but not many – real world scenarios, featuring in some hard-drives and other memory devices, whilst research teams at The University of Cambridge have been investigating 3D processor designs using Spintronics.
For Spintronics to work efficiently, the metal base must be exceptionally clear, requiring very high quality metal, or for the metal to undergo a costly purification process.
Graphene holds the upper hand here. Using a chemical vapour deposition, one-atom-thin graphene wires are created, undergoing further deposition onto copper, followed by silicon-dioxide-on-silicon wafers. The result? Spintronics with a range of 16 micrometers, with a lifetime of 1.2 nanoseconds. I know, extremely short lived, minute memory storage – but it all has to start somewhere.
Research teams have a stated aim of creating a logical component similar to a transistor, using graphene and magnetic materials to develop storage devices. The eventual long-term goal of engineers is to create a viable technology to run alongside, if not replace semiconductors. Whether Spintronics can ultimately provide that technology, to be as powerful, as efficient, as useful and cost effective as traditional processors remains to be seen.
Image courtesy of: Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.