It's all in the spin: Researchers find the holy grail of spintronics, which will enable the whole semiconductor industry to transfer to a new paradigm. Look for spintronics device to begin appearing in commercial products within seven years. R.C.J.
Smarter electronic circuitry will, in the future, store information on the spin of an electron—up or down—rather than on the number of electrons stored, thereby saving energy, generating less heat and operating at higher speeds. Now University of Cincinnati researchers claim to have found spintronics' "holy grail"—electrical control of spin.
Today electronic devices store information—logical 1s and 0s—by charging up a storage component, such as a capacitor or a floating gate. Electronic charge accumulates in the storage device, raising its voltage until it rises from a 0 to a 1 (in a 5-volt system a 1 is encoded as 2.7 volts or above, and anything below 2.4 volts is a 0). Instead of storing electrical charge to encode a logical 1, as opposed to 0 (no charge), future spintronics devices will instead encode 1s and 0s as either the up or down spin of individual electrons.