The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

A Silicon Spintronic Memory That Lasts

Stores spin for minutes instead of microseconds

3 min read

10 January 2011—In what could prove to be a big development in the nascent field of spintronics, scientists have succeeded in storing information for almost 2 minutes using a magnetic property of phosphorus nuclei embedded in silicon. For this property, called spin, 2 minutes is an eternity. The breakthrough could lead to new kinds of silicon-based memories that might even work at the level of a single atom.

Unlike conventional electronics, which uses an electron’s charge-carrying property to create circuits, spintronics exploits the quantum mechanical property of electrons known as electron spin to create useful devices. (Electron spin is a form of magnetic moment that causes electrons to act like bar magnets.) However, electron spins typically have short lifetimes (microseconds), which make it challenging to create registers and other devices necessary to perform calculations, since those actions require that the information be stored for a relatively long period of time.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

Keep Reading ↓Show less