Thursday, February 26, 2004

"CHIPS: Spin-valves open organic chip era"
A research technique for making organic spin-valve electronics could herald the coming of nonvolatile semiconductors melded with optical emitters, transducers and sensors. By using the spin of electrons, organic spin valves not only offer nonvolatile storage, but also enable emitters and sensors to share a chip with a processor, rather than requiring separate inorganic silicon or gallium arsenide chips for transducers. The proof-of-concept spin valve could enable "organic semiconductors that can not only store and process information, but can also emit light and detect radiation, air pollutants and magnetic fields," said Jing Shi, associate professor of physics at the University of Utah. He performed the work with Utah physics professor Valy Vardeny and postdoctoral researchers Zuhong Xiong and Di Wu. Conventional spin valves are made from superthin alternating layers of conducting metal and nonconducting insulators, rather than semiconductors, making them difficult to integrate onto conventional silicon or GaAs. However, by integrating so-called spintronics-based devices into organic semiconductors, Shi and Vardeny foresee an era of organic chips that put memory, processing, emitters and sensors on the same device.
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