Turning up the heat on electrons reveals an elusive physics phenomenon | Science News

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Turning up the heat on electrons reveals an elusive physics phenomenon

Spin Nernst effect could help scientists design new gadgets that store data using quantum property of spin

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12:00pm, September 26, 2017
illustration of Nernst effect

WHIRL AWAY  Electrons in platinum move in different directions depending on their spin when the metal is heated at one end. Scientists have observed this phenomenon, called the spin Nernst effect, for the first time.

When things heat up, spinning electrons go their separate ways.

Warming one end of a strip of platinum shuttles electrons around according to their spin, a quantum property that makes them behave as if they are twirling around. Known as the spin Nernst effect, the newly detected phenomenon was the only one in a cadre of related spin effects that hadn’t previously been spotted, researchers report online September 11 in Nature Materials.

“The last missing piece in the puzzle was spin Nernst and that's why we set out to search for this,” says study coauthor Sebastian Goennenwein, a physicist at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany.

The effect and its brethren — with names like the spin Hall effect, the spin Seebeck effect and the spin Peltier effect — allow scientists to create flows of electron spins, or spin currents. Such research

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