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ORNL study confirms magnetic properties of silicon nano-ribbons
by Staff Writers
Oak Ridge TN (SPX) Oct 18, 2012


File image.

Nano-ribbons of silicon configured so the atoms resemble chicken wire could hold the key to ultrahigh density data storage and information processing systems of the future.

This was a key finding of a team of scientists led by Paul Snijders of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The researchers used scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy to validate first principle calculations - or models - that for years had predicted this outcome.

The discovery, detailed in New Journal of Physics, validates this theory and could move scientists closer to their long-term goal of cost-effectively creating magnetism in non-magnetic materials.

"While scientists have spent a lot of time studying silicon because it is the workhorse for current information technologies, for the first time we were able to clearly establish that the edges of nano-ribbons feature magnetic silicon atoms," said Snijders, a member of the Materials Science and Technology Division.

The surprise is that while bulk silicon is non-magnetic, the edges of nano-ribbons of this material are magnetic.

Snijders and colleagues at ORNL, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin and Naval Research Laboratory showed that the electron spins are ordered anti-ferromagnetically, which means they point up and down alternatingly. Configured this way, the up and down spin-polarized atoms serve as effective substitutes for conventional zeros and ones common to electron, or charge, current.

"By exploiting the electron spins arising from intrinsic broken bonds at gold-stabilized silicon surfaces, we were able to replace conventional electronically charged zeros and ones with spins pointing up and down," Snijders said.

This discovery provides a new avenue to study low-dimensional magnetism, the researchers noted. Most importantly, such stepped silicon-gold surfaces provide an atomically precise template for single-spin devices at the ultimate limit of high-density data storage and processing.

"In the quest for smaller and less expensive magnets, electro-motors, electronics and storage devices, creating magnetism in otherwise non-magnetic materials could have far-reaching implications," Snijders said.

The paper is available on line here. This research was funded by DOE's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.

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Related Links
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Computer Chip Architecture, Technology and Manufacture
Nano Technology News From SpaceMart.com






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CHIP TECH
Optical vortices on a chip
Bristol UK (SPX) Oct 19, 2012
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol and the Universities of Glasgow (UK) and Sun Yat-sen and Fudan in China, have demonstrated integrated arrays of emitters of so call 'optical vortex beams' onto a silicon chip. The work is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Science magazine, published tomorrow [19 October 2012]. Contradicting traditio ... read more


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