A few years of development and several technological breakthroughs have brought us on the verge of some major changes in the electronic makeup and powering of our electronic devices. The use of thermo-spintronics will soon invade everyday life.
Spintronics make use of new discoveries in solid state physics and is a highly complex subject. Devices will soon use the spin relaxation and spin transport phenomena in semiconductors and metals to replace current electronic technology. The technology promises to produce faster circuits that operate on heat energy instead of conventional electricity.
Thermal-Spintronics is a hybrid technology that uses gallium manganese arsenide, a semiconductor material. This semiconductor material is capable of converting heat energy into the spin phenomenon. Scientists are currently working on a way to use the spin as electronic switching circuits, the same as already used by computer circuits to read and write data.
It will take several more years to develop the technology to the point of replacing what we use now. Switching circuits should be the first on the market. Circuits that amplify signals will probably come later. Once the switching device is ready it can be introduced into current technology by adding it on top of conventional devices and using that devices heat energy for power. The new components can be used in the circuitry where speed is most critical and we end up with a much faster computer.
Technically the phenomenon is called the spin-Seebeck effect. Discovered at the Tohoku University in 2008 the research was advanced at Ohio State University by Joseph Heremans and Roberto Myers. There are many scientists working on advancing this technology all over the world. Heremans and Myers are the two scientists working on the thermo-spintronics project. Using the tech for powering by heat energy and the spin effect itself are two closely related technologies.
Scientists at the University of California are working on related technology and have produced some amazing results. They discovered tunneling-spin-injection into Graphene. The researchers achievements are another step toward solving limiting issues other researchers have been having problems with, especially problems with accurate measurements of the spin effect.
Once this new technology becomes a reality it is easy to see that portable heat sources will have to be developed to make the new spintronic devices portable. Heat storage may prove to be more efficient and have longer power life depending on what the efficiency of the new technology works out to be.
My training as an electronic technician gives me limited ability to understand the physics of the spin effect. It is much easier to understand what the technology will mean to the real world. Heat is the main cause of electronic component failure. Heat has always been the enemy and will soon be the friend of electronic, or soon to be called spintronic devices.
Pam Frost Gorder, “SEMICONDUCTOR COULD TURN HEAT INTO COMPUTING POWER.” researchnews.osu.edu
“Introduction to Spintronics and Spin Quantum Computation.” physics.umd.edu
“Research achieve tunneling-spin-injection into graphene.” spintronics-info.com/