Nanoscale device may revolutionise spin electronics

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Washington, November 3 : An Indian-origin scientist's research team at Boston University has joined forces with collaborators from Germany, France and Korea to create a nanoscale torsion resonator for measuring miniscule amounts of twisting or torque in a metallic nanowire.

Raj Mohanty, an Associate Professor of Physics, says that the device, the size of a speck of dust, may help measure the untwisting of DNA.

He further states that such a device can also have applications in spintronics, fundamental physics, chemistry, and biology.

The researcher points out that spin-induced torque is crucial to understanding experiments, from the measurement of angular momentum of photons to the measurement of the gyromagnetic factor of metals.

Mohanty adds that a very miniaturized version of a gyroscope - about 6 microns - can be used to uncover new spin-dependent fundamental forces in particle physics.

"This is perhaps the most sensitive torque measurement every reported. The size of the torque measured by this experiment is smaller than the typical torque produced by the untwisting of a doubly-stranded DNA," Nature Nanotechnology quoted him as saying.

In their research paper, entitled 'Nanomechanical detection of itinerant electron spin flip', Mohanty and his colleagues have reported the development of a highly sensitive way to directly measure torque using microelectronic mechanical systems with spin electronics.

They have developed a microscopic spin-torsion device fabricated by electron beam lithography and nanomachining, which mechanically measures the changes in spin states in a magnetic field. This device was operated at one tenth of a degree close to absolute zero.

"The measurements with a nanoscale torsion resonator will be useful in uncovering new fundamental forces and, in theory, for characterizing torque producing molecules and DNA," said Mohanty.


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