The engineers have found a way to pass information from a series of tiny magnets arrayed on a thin film, to other magnets on a second film located below the first. (Image credit: University of Glasgow)


Spintronics is described as the intrinsic spin of an electron in its magnetic moment, which can be exploited, or manipulated and used for highly efficient data storage and transfer. Electron spin has two magnetic orientations- either up or down, providing two additional binary states to the low/high logic values, represented by currents. Dropping the spin-state into the mix, provides four possible states (up/low, up/high, down/low, down/high), thus creating a qubit (or quantum bit) that can be encoded.


While spintronics allows us to have super-fast data transfer speeds and efficient storage, it’s also limited, as those tiny electrons could only be moved around on a single atomic layer. Engineers from the University of Glasgow have overcome that limitation by incorporating a second layer- allowing information to move freely from one layer to the next without hindrance.


In a recently published paper on Nature Materials entitled “Symmetry-breaking interlayer Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions in synthetic antiferromagnets,” the engineers describe how they were able to accomplish this feat using tiny magnets arrayed on a thin film, and another set arrayed on a layer below, allowing information to pass between them.


This new development transforms what used to be a 2D state into a 3D version, with further benefits that come along with it- including low power consumption, more substantial storage capacities in electronics, and other advancements in the field of spintronics. According to lead author of the paper, Dr. Amalio Fernandez-Pacheco, “It’s a bit like being given an extra note in a musical scale to play with - it opens up a whole new world of possibilities, not just for conventional information processing and storage, but potentially for new forms of computing we haven’t even thought of yet.”  


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