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Spintronics to enable quantum data storage on individual atoms

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:spintronics? atomic memories?

University of Utah researchers demonstrated how to store quantum information on individual atoms, rather than electrons, via spintronics. They achieved a refresh time of 112 seconds�thousands of times longer than memorories storing information on electron spin�by reading and writing spin onto phosphorus atoms in a silicon substrate.

"Nuclear spins where we store information have extremely long storage times before the information decays," said Boehme. "Its spin isn't messed with by what's going on in the clouds of electrons around the nucleus."

To prove that atomic nuclei store spins more reliably than electrons, the Boehme group's experimental demonstration used a phosphorus-doped silicon chip measuring just 1mm2. After supercooling the material to 3.2 degrees Kelvin, an intense magnetic field of nearly 8.6T aligned the spins of the phosphorus atom's electrons, which was then transferred to the nuclei by FM-band radio waves.

Up to 112 seconds later, the group was able to demonstrate that near-terahertz wavelengths could then be used to transfer the nuclei spins back onto the atom's electrons, allowing its value to be electrically read-out as a current. The researchers showed that the mechanism was reliable by reading and writing the phosphorus nuclei 2000 times. Next the researchers are going to try the same demonstration with a single phosphorus atom.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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