New spin graphene makes it magnetic

New spin on graphene makes it magnetic

11:51 AM, 18th April 2011
New spin on graphene makes it magnetic
Flow of electrons (green arrows) which magnetises graphene. (C) Mesoscopic Physics Group, Prof Andre Geim, Uni of Manchester.

 

MANCHESTER,UNITED KINGDOM: A team led by Professor Andre Geim, a recipient of the 2010 Nobel prize for graphene, can now show that electric current - a flow of electrons - can magnetise graphene. The results, could be a potentially huge breakthrough in the field of spintronics.

Spintronics is a group of emerging technologies that exploit the intrinsic spin of the electron, in addition to its fundamental electric charge that is exploited in microelectronics. Spintronics devices such as sensors and memories are already being produced. Every hard disk drive has a magnetic sensor that uses a flow of spins and magnetic random access memory (MRAM) chips are becoming increasingly popular.

In future spintronics devices and transistors, coupling between the current and spin will be direct, without using magnetic materials to inject spins as it is done at the moment. The researchers found a new way to interconnect spin and charge by applying a relatively weak magnetic field to graphene and found that this causes a flow of spins in the direction perpendicular to electric current, making a graphene sheet magnetised. The effect resembles the one caused by spin-orbit interaction but is larger and can be tuned by varying the external magnetic field.

The team believes their discovery offers numerous opportunities for redesigning current spintronics devices and making new ones such as spin-based transistors.

“The holy grail of spintronics is the conversion of electricity into magnetism or vice versa. We offer a new mechanism, thanks to unique properties of graphene. I imagine that many venues of spintronics can benefit from this finding,” said Professor Geim.

(C) ScienceDaily 

 

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