Spintronics revisited with graphene

Spintronics revisited with graphene

Technology News |
By Julien Happich

Spintronics is the combination of electronics and magnetism (via the spin of electrons), at the nanoscale, it is often touted as a viable alternative for nanoelectronics beyond Moore’s law, offering higher energy efficiency and lower dissipation as compared to conventional electronics which solely relies on charge currents.

Graphene acts as an ideal spin-transport channel given its
long spin-relaxation length. In the center of the channel two
magnetic contacts are used to electrically inject or detect the
spin current. The need for magnetic contacts is circumvented
by using heterostructures of graphene and transition-metal
dichalcogenides, which enable direct optical spin injection
(top left) and direct charge-to-spin conversion (bottom right).
Credit: Reviews of Modern Physics (2020).
DOI: 10.1103/RevModPhys.92.021003

Published in the APS Journal Review of Modern Physics, the review focuses on the new perspectives provided by heterostructures and their emergent phenomena, including proximity-enabled spin-orbit effects, coupling spin to light, electrical tunability and 2-D magnetism.

“The continuous progress in graphene spintronics, and more broadly in 2-D heterostructures, has resulted in the efficient creation, transport, and detection of spin information using effects previously inaccessible to graphene alone. As efforts on both the fundamental and technological aspects continue, we believe that ballistic spin transport will be realized in 2-D heterostructures, even at room temperature. Such transport would enable practical use of the quantum mechanical properties of electron wave functions, bringing spins in 2-D materials to the service of future quantum computation approaches”, said Dr. Ivan Vera Marun, Lecturer in Condensed Matter Physics at The University of Manchester.

Of particular interest are custom-tailored heterostructures, known as van der Waals heterostructures, that consist of stacks of two-dimensional materials in a precisely controlled order. This review gives an overview of this developing field of graphene spintronics and outlines the experimental and theoretical state of the art.

“The identification and characterisation of new quantum materials with non-trivial topological electronic and magnetic properties is being intensively studied worldwide, after the formulation, in 2004 of the concept of topological insulators. Spintronics lies at the core of this search. Because of their purity, strength, and simplicity, two dimensional materials are the best platform where to find these unique topological features which relate quantum physics, electronics, and magnetism”, added Professor Francisco Guinea who co-authored the paper.

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