All-electrically controlled magnetic memory devices

April 18, 2007

In a News and Views piece in the latest Nature Materials, Russell P Cowburn writes about spintroics. Here is the abstract:

The magnetization direction in the centre of a submicrometre magnetic disk can now be switched by an electrical current. This discovery demonstrates the potential of realizing all-electrically controlled magnetic memory devices.

The article begins with a discussion of magnetoresistance (change in electrical resistance due to a change in the magnetic state of the material), and its complementary effect, spin transfer (change in the magnetization of the material due to the passage of current–the spin of the electrons, while moving through regions of magnetization gradients, change and in turn also exert a torque on the magnetization of the material).  And, then it proceeds to discuss vortex cores and the recent discovery that they can be manipulated by electric fields. Finally, the article ends with a discussion as to why technologists are excited about spin transfer. A lucidly written article worth your while.

PS: The wiki page on spintronics is also a nice place to look for resources–it links to this 2002 Scientific American article for example.

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