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Spin control for technology

Guiding electrons opens doors for 'new physics,' enables new devices

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2:07pm, April 1, 2009

The wild spins of electrons in a semiconductor can be tamed by guiding their collective motions into a synchronized helix, new research shows. The study, published April 2 in Nature, uncovers new principles of physics and holds promise for the development of new information-carrying gadgets.

“The experiment is a fundamental discovery — a discovery with a device potential,” comments Jaroslav Fabian, of the University of Regensburg in Germany.

Electrons behave like spinning tops, complete with angular momentum. Because of this property, an electron winds up with a small magnetic field, as if the electron has a little bar magnet inside, says study coauthor Jake Koralek of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Calif.

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