Nanoelectronics Atomic Scale spintronics

Spintronics (a neologism meaning "spin transport electronics"), is an emerging technology that exploits both the intrinsic;spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices. Spintronics already works in consumer products like the read-head of your hard disk, which is based on a Giant Magneto Resistance (GMR) sensor in a multilayer of ferromagnetic and non-magnetic metals.

A spin valve is a system with two magnetic layers separated by a non-magnetic spacer which shows the two main effects in spintronics, namely, magnetoresistance,  the fact that the  magnetic state of a system affects its current flow, and  the reciprocal effect, spin tranfer torque, which permits to control the magnetic orientation of one of the layers when a sufficiently large spin polarized current flows through.

Recent progress on atomic scale manipulation, in most instances making use of Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) make it possible to fabricate a spin valve made of only two atoms and still shows magnetoresistance and current induced magnetization switching.

The  main goal of the Atomic Scale Spintronics projects is to unveil the fundamentals principles underlying the functionality of spintronic devices at the atomic scale.  This involves understanding the electronic structure of  atomic scale magnetic structures, as well as their spin dynamics under the influcence of spin polarized current and coupling to dissipative reservoirs. Particularly intriguing are the effects associated to spin quantization, that are relevant at the atomic scale.


External collaborations: Cyrus Hirjibehedin (London Centre for Nanotechnology). Carlos Untiedt (Universidad de Alicante)