A New Spin On Atomic Logic

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Physics & Astronomy


The last decade has seen staggering advances in our ability to acquire and process information at the single atom and single molecule levels. Both the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) and its slightly younger sibling, the atomic force microscope (AFM), now enable individual atoms to be probed, positioned, and, in essence, programmed by exploiting control of an impressively wide variety of physicochemical processes and properties right down to the single chemical bond limit.

In recent work by Andreas Heinrich's team at IBM Research Labs, the worlds of quantum information processing and not just nanotechnology, but atomtech, have excitingly been bridged. This opens up entirely new approaches to not just quantum computing* but much more energy-efficient classical information processing via spin control in solid state devices (whose power consumption is increasingly unsustainable for many applications.)

Although exceptionally impressive, the single atom qubits achieved by the IBM team are fabricated and manipulated on a bespoke material system involving a thin oxide film on a metal substrate. This is unfortunately not the most technologically relevant or scalable of architectures. Our New Horizons application instead involves information processing, logic, and spin control at the single atom level in silicon, a material that remains at the very core of our information society and will likely remain there for quite some time to come. We will exploit recent advancements in the fabrication of atomic-scale Boolean gates by Bob Wolkow's team at the University of Alberta to develop a new spin logic architecture based on the surprising "innate" magnetism of electron orbitals created on an atomically sculpted silicon surface.


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