Spinning up computer memory

Mitra Taheri and colleagues at Drexel University are working on spin transport electronics, spintronics, in which electron spin, and not just charge, is the currency of computation. They hope to pioneer spintronic memory for a future generation of computers that represent as big a technological leap in computing as was the jump from typewriter to word processor. "We're trying to develop a framework to understand how the many parameters—structure, chemistry, magnetism and electronic properties—are related to each other," explains Taheri. The researchers are using advanced scanning transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy and other high-resolution techniques to observe the spintronic behavior of thin film oxides and have revealed anisotropy that might be exploited in devices.