Novel New Method to Enable Spin-based Electronics
Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds
Available for licensing
- Alexander Demkov , Physics
- Agham-Bayan Posadas , Physics
As rapid progress in the miniaturization of semiconductor electronic devises leads toward chip features smaller than 100 nanometers in size, device engineers and physicists are inevitably faced with the looming presence of quantum mechanics. One unique property may present an unprecedented opportunity to define a radically new class of device that would provide advantages over existing information technologies. That quantum property is electron spin, which is closely related to magnetism.
Devices that rely on an electron’s spin to perform their functions form the foundation of spin-based electronics, or spintronics. Information technology has thus far relied on purely charge-based devices, ranging from the now-quaint vacuum tube to today’s million-transistor microchips. Those conventional electronic devices move electric charges around, ignoring the spin that tags along for the ride on each electron.
Current technology has developed spintronic devices using ferromagnetic metal alloys. The future generation of devices will involve spin-polarized currents flowing in semiconductors instead of metals. Achieving practical spintronics in semiconductors would allow a wealth of existing microelectronics techniques to be co-opted and would also unleash many more types of devices such as ultra-fast switches, fully programmable microprocessor chips, and multifunctional electronics that combine logic, storage, and communications on a single chip.
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a fabrication method and a structure of a magnetic film on silicon. Room-temperature ferromagnetism is stabilized in a doped oxide film, either in direct contact with the semiconductor or separated by a thin amorphous silicon dioxide layer.
- No loss of spin polarization at metal/silicon interface
- Process uses mature semiconductor manufacturing technology
- Process adaptable to incorporate other properties of the host crystal, such as thermoelectricity and ferroelasticity
Microelectronic devices that function by using the spin of the electron are a nascent multi-billion dollar industry.
Proof of concept
- 1 U.S. patent issued: 9,293,697