Ongoing research into spintronics is likely to result in a new class of multifunctional electronics.

SAN JOSE, CA—Ongoing research into spintronics, a method that enables spin-polarized current flow through semiconductors, is likely to result in a new class of multifunctional electronics.

Practical spintronics incorporates existing microelectronic manufacturing techniques. It is enabling the development of ultra-fast switches and fully programmable all-spintronics microprocessors that can combine logic, storage and communications on a single chip. “Superior optical properties of semiconductors and their ability to amplify both optical and electrical signals will form the basis for these developments, which will eventually contribute to the emergence of semiconductor spintronics,” says Charles Joslin, Technical Insights analyst.

However, this technology depends on devising economic ways to combine ferromagnetic metals and semiconductors in integrated circuits. This is a demanding task, due to the differences in crystal structure and chemical bonding.

Challenges also exist in determining efficient ways to inject spin-polarized currents into a semiconductor; in recognizing the properties at boundaries between different types of semiconductors; and in developing the ability to retain polarization. Moreover, for greater spin polarization, concentrated materials that are capable of allowing Zeeman splitting of the conduction band are required.