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The Quest for the Spin Transistor

The mystical property of electron spin is revolutionizing the memory business. If it can do the same with logic, electronics will become "spintronics"

14 min read
The Quest for the Spin Transistor

From the earliest batteries through vacuum tubes, solid state, and integrated circuits, electronics has staved off stagnation. Engineers and scientists have remade it repeatedly, vaulting it over one hurdle after another to keep alive a record of innovation unmatched in industrial history.

It is a spectacular and diverse account through which runs a common theme. When a galvanic pile twitches a frog's leg, when a triode amplifies a signal, or when a microprocessor stores a bit in a random access memory, the same agent is at work: the movement of electric charge. Engineers are far from exhausting the possibilities of this magnificent mechanism. But even if a dead end is not yet visible, the foreseeable hurdles are high enough to set some searching for the physics that will carry electronics on to its next stage. In so doing, it could help up the ante in the semiconductor stakes, ushering in such marvels as nonvolatile memories with enormous capacity, ultrafast logic devices that can change function on the fly, and maybe even processors powerful enough to begin to rival biological brains.v A growing band of experimenters think they have seen the future of electronics, and it is spin. This fundamental yet elusive property of electrons and other subatomic particles underlies permanent magnetism, and is often regarded as a strange form of nano-world angular momentum.

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Medal of Honor Goes to Microsensor and Systems Pioneer

The UCLA professor developed aerospace and automotive safety systems

3 min read
Photo of a man in a blue jacket in front of a brick wall.
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

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3 min read
Video Friday: An Agile Year

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Fix DFM hotspots in P&R with sign-off confidence

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