Silicon-based nanospintronics

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: London Centre for Nanotechnology


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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