University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Wednesday, April 8th 2009
Speaker: Albert Fert, 1Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales, 91767 Palaiseau, and Université Paris-Sud
Subject: Spintronics: electrons, spins, computers and telephones
Reception to follow lecture in Physics 216

The electron carry not only an electrical charge but also a spin. The spin can be viewed as a tiny magnet and, actually, the magnetism of matter is mainly related to the orientation of the spin of the electrons. Spintronics is a new type of electronics exploiting not only the charge of the electrons but also the influence of the spin on their mobility in magnetic materials. We are already familiar with spintronics since we use everyday the "Giant Magnetoresistance" (GMR) to read the hard disc of our computer or listen to music on our I-Pod. The discovery of the GMR, 21 years ago, kicked off the development of spintronics which is expanding today in many very promising directions. I will describe the most recent advances. The current researches will probably lead to a new type of memory (STT-RAM) for our computer, to smart radio-wave emitters for our telephone and, perhaps, to qubits for quantum computing.

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