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An attractive source for spintronics

Discovery may lead to battery that generates magnetic currents

3:40pm, October 8, 2008
Physicists have discovered a phenomenon that may lead to a new type of battery, one that could create magnetic, rather than electric, currents. Magnetic currents are the basis of the emerging field of spintronics, which promises to extend the long run toward computer chip miniaturization by reducing overheating from waste heat.

The new type of battery gives a convenient source of magnetic currents, which were cumbersome to generate in the past, comments physicist Phuan Ong of PrincetonUniversity. “Future generations of physicists can then use it to design devices of their own,” he says.

Eiji Saitoh of KeioUniversity in Yokohama, Japan, and his collaborators found that heating one side of a magnetized nickel-iron rod changes the arrangement of the electrons in the material according to their spins. These spins are the quantum-physics analogs of the south-north magnetic axes in bar magnets.

In the heated rod, electrons with

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