February 1, 2016

A highway for spin waves

The spin wave remains trapped in the domain wall, which is formed in the middle
between the differently oriented magnetizations. Researchers at the HZDR could
thus control its propagation purposefully. Foto: HZDR/H. Schultheiß

(February 1, 2016)  Researchers in Dresden develop process for controlling innovative information media

The success story of information processing by way of moving electrons is slowly coming to an end. The trend towards more and more compact chips constitutes a major challenge for manufacturers, since the increasing miniaturization creates partly unsolvable physical problems. This is why magnetic spin waves could be the future: they are faster than electronic charge carriers and use less power. Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and TU Dresden have developed a method for controlling the propagation of these information carriers at the nanolevel in a targeted and simple way; so far, this required a lot of power. They have thus created a basis for nanocircuits that use spin waves.

"Our current information processing is based on electrons," explains Dr. Helmut Schultheiß from the HZDR's Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research. "These charged particles flow through the wires, creating electric currents. Yet in the process they collide with atoms and lose energy, which escapes into the crystal lattice in the form of heat. This means that chips get all the warmer, the closer the elements on them are grouped together. Eventually they fail, because the heat cannot be conveyed anymore." This is why Schultheiß, head of an Emmy Noether Junior Research Group, pursues a different approach: information transport via spin waves, also known as magnons.

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