Professor Andre Geim, one of the researchers awarded the Nobel prize for his work with Graphene, announced yesterday that he and his team at the University of Manchester have successfully magnetised graphene using a flow of electrons.
The work has been described as a potentially huge breakthrough in the field of spintronics, as it "offers numerous opportunities for redesigning current spintronics devices and making new ones such as spin-based transistors" per the university’s announcement.
Professor Geim said: "The holy grail of spintronics is the conversion of electricity into magnetism or vice versa. We offer a new mechanism, thanks to unique properties of graphene. I imagine that many venues of spintronics can benefit from this finding."
Making the link between electron spin and current will open up huge possibilities for spintronics engineers, as microelectronics already allows for manipulation of current.
The research, which has been published in the journal Science, describes how the researchers applied a relatively weak magnetic field to graphene, inducing a flow of spins perpendicular to electric current.
This new way of interconnecting spin and charge magnetised the sheet of graphene. Varying the external magnetic field allows the scientists a degree of control over the effect, making it tunable. It is also larger than a similar effect which is seen in spin-orbit interactions, making it easier to use.
From the announcement: The Manchester researchers also show that graphene placed on boron nitride is an ideal material for spintronics because the induced magnetism extends over macroscopic distances from the current path without decay.