Toward a more energy-efficient spintronics

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(Top) Example of the system developed: a ferromagnetic material that can generat

(Top) Example of the system developed: a ferromagnetic material that can generate a spin current and inject it into an interface material, in which it is converted into a charge current. Traditionally, in order to change the sign of the charge current produced, the magnetization of the ferromagnetic material must be reversed by applying a magnetic field or a powerful current. Here this is produced by reversing the polarisation of the ferroelectric material using an electric field. (Bottom) Experimental curve showing the evolution of the charge produced as a function of the voltage applied to the ferroelectric material. © CNRS/Thales and Spintec (CNRS/CEA/Université Grenoble Alpes).

Electron spin-a fundamentally quantum property-is central to spintronics, a technology that revolutionized data storage, 1 and that could play a major role in creating new computer processors. In order to generate and detect spin currents, spintronics traditionally uses ferromagnetic materials whose magnetization switching consume high amounts of energy. In the April 22, 2020 issue of Nature, researchers at the Spintec Laboratory (CNRS/CEA/Université Grenoble Alpes) and the CNRS/Thales Laboratory recently presented  an approach that can detect spin information at low power using a non-magnetic system. Their research opens the way towards spintronic devices that operate on ferroelectricity rather than on ferromagnetism, thereby consuming 1,000 times less energy.
 


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