UK Research Brings "Spintronics" Closer To Reality

May 14, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Imagine an iPod Shuffle, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, that holds 50 gigabytes of information. One University of Kentucky professor says it could become a reality with the help of something called “spintronics.” 

The idea behind spintronics – using the quantum property of spin for digital binary encoding – has been around for awhile. The sought-after “Holy Grail” of spintronics is a suitable material to act as a semiconductor. Research suggests that graphene, a cousin of the graphite you find in pencils, could do the trick. If so, the results could be dramatic.

"We could do a computation much, much faster," says Professor Madhu Menon with UK’s Center for Computational Sciences. "What you could accomplish with a laptop you could accomplish with a computer the size of a wristwatch." 

Menon, who published a paper on the subject with a colleague from the University of South Florida says there are other benefits to using graphene instead of silicone. It’s 100 times more conductive than silicon, requires no cooling mechanisms like fans, and can provide more stable memory.