Skip to Content

Silicon-Based Spintronics

First of its kind computing prototype.
August 15, 2007

Today’s computers work by moving and storing electronic charge. But manipulating another property of electrons, their quantum-­mechanical “spin,” would be faster and take far less energy. Researchers have been working on “spintronics” for years, and now electrical engineers at the University of Delaware and at Cambridge ­Nano­Tech in Cambridge, MA, have made the first proto­type device that measures spin in silicon.

Spin chip: An array of one-¬millimeter-square silicon spintronic devices sits in a chip carrier.

Electron spins come in two directions, up and down, which could represent the 1 and 0 of binary computation if spin could be controlled and detected. In the proto­type, energized electrons first hit a magnetic cobalt-iron layer, which filters out electrons with down spin. The remaining up electrons pass through a 10-micrometer silicon layer and hit a detector consisting of a nickel-iron layer on top of a copper layer; all the layers sit on a silicon substrate. “It’s a very ingenious scheme to electrically generate and transport spins in silicon, [to] electrically detect the spins, and doing all of this on a chip,” says David Awschalom, a physicist who studies semi­conductor spintronics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI
Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI

The walls are closing in on Clearview AI

The controversial face recognition company was just fined $10 million for scraping UK faces from the web. That might not be the end of it.

spaceman on a horse generated by DALL-E
spaceman on a horse generated by DALL-E

This horse-riding astronaut is a milestone in AI’s journey to make sense of the world

OpenAI’s latest picture-making AI is amazing—but raises questions about what we mean by intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.