Spintronics pave way for gen-next computing

In what may open up a new window to realise a gen-next computing system, Indian researchers have found out an innovative way to create memories for futuristic computers that would exploit spintronics technology.

Reported by scientists at the S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, the technique may one day help computer manufacturing companies save a lot on the testing procedures when spintronics devices are commonplace.

So what's spintronics? It's an emerging area of electronics research that seeks to exploit one of the two fundamental properties of the electron – the tiny sub-atomic particle within an atom – while making devices like computers.

The conventional electronic devices rely on the “charge” property of the electron while spintronics is about exploiting the “spin” property of the same particle.

The upshot is a sharp drop in power consumption and generation of heat, which is so huge for super-computers that they require a substantial amount of energy-guzzling cooling arrangement to function.

While no one has made a spintronics-based computer so far, there are some advances in the last two decades in developing the memory and logic gates for such devices. However, critical challenges still remain.

Due to the advent of high-performance computing and mobile devices with video cameras, an enormous amount of information is now generated and stored in modern gadgets, which has been made possible due to the growth in the storage and memory technologies.

Despite such growth, dynamic RAMs that lie at the heart of such devices and are based on semiconductor technologies face limitations to maintain a significant growth rate.

The major goal of modern spintronics is to harness pure spin current to enable more efficient information processing through non-volatility, rapid switching, and energy-efficient on-chip integration of magnetic bits in memory devices.

The technique reported by Anjan Barman and his colleagues at the Kolkata laboratory proposes an efficient way to do that.

Barman and his colleagues S N Panda, S Mondal, J Sinha and S Choudhury used femtosecond laser pulses to manipulate a process called “spin-pumping” to create the memories that can replace the dynamic RAM in spintronics devices. The process can also be used to generate the logic gates for spintronic computers.

The discovery was reported recently in the April 26 issue of the journal Sciences Advances.

It's not that the research would lead to a functional spintronics computer overnight. "But our finding provides a deep insight into the efficiency of a method (spin transport), which is the bedrock for designing spin-based memory and logic devices," Barman told DH.

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