In a breakthrough for applied physics, North Carolina State University researchers have developed a magnetic semiconductor memory device, using GaMnN thin films, which utilizes both the charge and spin of electrons at room temperature. This is a major breakthrough, as previous devices that used magnetic semiconductors (GaMnAs) and controlled electron spin were only functional at 100 K (or -173 Celsius). By controlling the spin of electrons, the new device represents a significant advance in semiconductor efficiency and speed.
The new device is also an advance on earlier experimental models because it uses only 5-6 volts to switch the bias of the electrons. Previous cold-temperature devices used much higher voltage. The research was published April 2 in Applied Physics Letters.The paper can be found at http://tinyurl.
The research team included NC State professors S.M. Bedair and Nadia El-Masry; adjunct professor J.M. Zavada; post-doctoral research fellow N. Nepal; and graduate students Oliver Luen and P. Frajtag. The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office.