Friday, April 10, 2015

Graphene looking promising for future spintronic devices

Graphene looking promising for future spintronic devices

The researchers fabricated the spintronics devices at the Nano fabrication laboratory at Chalmers University of Technology. From left: Saroj Prasad Dash, Venkata Kamalakar Mutta and André Dankert. Credit: Oscar Mattsson

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have discovered that large area graphene is able to preserve electron spin over an extended period, and communicate it over greater distances than had previously been known. This has opened the door for the development of spintronics, with an aim to manufacturing faster and more energy-efficient memory and processors in computers. The findings will be published in the journal Nature Communications.

"We believe that these results will attract a lot of attention in the research community and put graphene on the map for applications in spintronic components," says Saroj Dash, who leads the research group at Chalmers University of Technology.

Spintronics is based on the quantum state of the , and the technology is already being used in advanced hard drives for data storage and magnetic random accesses memory. But here the spin-based information only needs to move a few nanometers, or millionths of a millimetre. Which is lucky, because spin is a property in electrons that in most materials is extremely short-lived and fragile.
However, there are major advantages in exploiting spin as an information carrier, instead of, or in addition to electric charges. Spintronics could make processors significantly faster and less energy consuming than they are today.
Graphene is a promising candidate for extending the use of spintronics in the electronics industry. The thin carbon film is not only an excellent electrical conductor, but also theoretically has the rare ability to maintain the electrons with the spin intact.
"In future spin-based components, it is expected that the electrons must be able to travel several tens of micrometers with their spins kept aligned. Metals, such as aluminium or copper, do not have the capacity to handle this. Graphene appears to be the only possible material at the moment," says Saroj Dash.
Today, graphene is produced commercially by a few companies using a number of different methods, all of which are in an early phase of development.
Put simply, you could say that high-quality graphene can only be obtained in very small pieces, while larger graphene is produced in a way that the quality is either too low or has other drawbacks from the perspective of the electronics industry.
But that general assumption is now being seriously questioned by the findings presented by the research group at Chalmers. They have conducted their experiments using CVD graphene, which is produced through . The method gives the graphene a lot of wrinkles, roughness and other defects.

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