London, April 8 : Three scientists at Nano-Science Center and the Niels Bohr Institute have come up with a new concept that may revolutionise the way information is stored on computers, i.e. open the door to a means to store data much faster and more accurately.
Computing power and memory are two equally important elements of a computer, and both have so far been developed in parallel.
While the memory is constructed from magnetic components, the media of computing is electrical signals.
Nano-physicists Jonas Hauptmann, Jens Paaske, and Poul Erik Lindelof are now trying to combine electricity and magnetism to make a nanotube-based transistor, a step on the way towards a new means of data-storage.
"We are the first to obtain direct electrical control of the smallest magnets in nature, one single electron spin. This has vast perspectives in the long run," Nature magazine quoted PhD student Hauptmann, who carried out certain experiments under the supervision of Professor Poul Erik Lindelof, as saying.
"In our experiments, we use carbon nanotubes as transistors. We have placed the nanotubes between magnetic electrodes and we have shown, that the direction of a single electron spin caught on the nanotube can be controlled directly by an electric potential. One can picture this single electron spin caught on the nanotube as an artificial atom," Hauptmann added.
Since this is the first time that a study has demonstrated direct electrical control over a single electron spin in practice, the research team's work has attracted a lot of interest.
Direct electrical control over a single electron spin has been acknowledged as a theoretical possibility for several years. Nevertheless, in spite of many zealous attempts worldwide, it is only now with this experiment that the mechanism has been demonstrated in practice. This is why the discovery of the scientists has attracted a lot of interest.
"Transistors are important components in every electronic device. We work with a completely new transistor concept, in which a carbon nanotube or a single organic molecule takes the place of the traditional semi-conductor transistor. Our discovery shows that the new transistor can function as a magnetic memory," said Jens Paaske, a professor at Nano-Science Center and the Niels Bohr Institute.