Spintronics: A New Frontier for Computing and Communications

Lecture presented by: Professor Albert Fert
Date: March 27, 2013
Location: VŠB–Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic

Spin Electronics – or Spintronics – is a new field of research which exploits the influence of the orientation of the electron spin* on the electrical conduction in magnetic materials. It is mainly known for the “giant magnetoresistance” (GMR) of the magnetic multilayers, a phenomenon that is used to read the hard disc of our computer and has led to a large increase of the capacity of the discs. The discovery of the GMR in 1988 kicked off an intense research of similar spin-induced effects and the field has been called spintronics. Nowadays spintronics is developing along many novel directions with a promising perspective of applications, short term applications for next generations of computers or telephones and, in a longer term, devices to go beyond the limits of conventional semiconductor-based electronics.

After an introduction on the fundamentals of spintronics, I will review some of the most interesting emerging research directions of today. The spin transfer phenomena will be applied soon in new types of non-volatile memories called STT-RAM (with a significant reduction of the energy consumption in computers) and also to devices for radio-wave generation in telecommunications. Spintronics with carbon-based materials like graphene or carbon nanotubes is foreseen to be the base of new types of electronic circuits in the beyond-silicon perspective. Also the study of neuromorphic devices for bio-inspired computing is an exciting novel direction of research.

* The spin can be described as a small magnet carried by each electron

graduated from École Normale Supérieure in Paris, earned his Ph.D. at University of Paris in 1970 and became Professor of Physics at University Paris-Sud in 1976. He is Scientific Director of a joint laboratory of CNRS and company Thales, Emeritus Professor at University Paris-Sud and member of the French Academy of Sciences.

HISE in Czech Republic with Nobel Laureate Albert Fert