Silicon-based nanospintronics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: ATI Physics


The spin of the electron is a fundamental quantum mechanical phenomenon that means it behaves like a small magnet. In normal electronic devices the spin is not relevant, because the operation occurs by the effect of electric fields on the electron charge. However, new kinds of device are being proposed that will make use of the spin direction to carry information, and these technologies are called spintonics . The other quantum attributes, spin and orbit, are not used because of the continuing success in miniaturization underlying the celebrated Moore's Laws for information technology. However, the increased energy dissipation and performance variability associated with smaller devices is spurring a search for alternative paradigms, and schemes where charges are stationary while spin and/or orbital currents flow are attracting great interest. The present proposal exploits the combination of Chinese excellence in advanced silicon nanofabrication and UK expertise in addressing spin and orbital degrees of freedom in silicon to move towards single spin manipulation and detection in silicon. It meets not only the requirements of the UK-China Nanospintronics Call, but also addresses major EPSRC signposted areas, including quantum coherence and silicon technology, both topics with high significance and potential impact. Exploration of silicon-based platforms for spintronics is important because we could exploit the far more extensive processing and fabrication knowledge for this semiconductor. At the same time, silicon provides great benefits for spintronics: it is an exceptionally stable environment to store atoms with well-defined spin states Our programme will scale down the current state-of-the-art of silicon spintronic devices towards the single spin limit; we will demonstrate quantum mechanical manipulation of spins and orbitals in nano-scale structures. At the same time as allowing addressing of single spins, the nanostructures will also enhance the properties of the material by reducing the phonon scattering that upsets device operation.


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Description We aimed to develop new methods of detecting THz light with silicon electronics. We have succeeded in producing new detectors based on regular dopants with unprecedented speed (in the GHz range). We developed a goon understanding of how those devices work, and the microscopic processes that govern the speed and wavelength range. The work is in collaboration with University College London who developed electrical detection of spin resonance, and Peking University in China who made the devices.
Exploitation Route These new THz detectors are likely to find many applications in quantum technologies, security applications, bio-molecule detection for chemicals etc.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description UK - China partnership on silicon spintronics 
Organisation Peking University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The project was the beginning of a very successful collaboration between two UK groups (Surrey and UCL), and a new partnership with a Chinese team (Peking University). Surrey brings expertise in THz optics and spin dynamics in semiconductors, UCL in magnetism and magnetic resonance, and Peking in CMOS and MEMS technologies for silicon devices. Bringing this team together enabled (and enables) new devices for laser controlled spintronic and orbitronic devices in silicon with electrical readout. The PKU team is a world leader in silicon nanoscale device engineering, and shares a long-standing interest in infrared technology with the UK groups. Achievements include a cantilever- based IR detector and monolithic integration with industry standard microelectronic (CMOS) circuits on Silicon On Insulator wafers. These wafers and processing are hard to source at low cost for academic research outside of China. PKU contributed SOI wafers, processing, and academic, technical and student time.
Start Year 2009