This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Spintronics

Pronounced /ˌspɪnˈtrɒnɪks/Help with IPA

This is a new technological discipline which aims to exploit the subtle and mind-bendingly esoteric quantum properties of the electron to develop a new generation of electronic devices. Its potential is sufficiently great that the US Department of Defense has invested more than $50 million dollars in spintronics research in the past year. The word is a blend of electronics with spin, the quantum property it exploits. Like so many words applied to the subatomic realm, spin has to be taken figuratively as a convenient label for a property that has no equivalent in gross matter. Every electron exists in one of two states, spin-up or spin-down; it is possible to make a sandwich of gold atoms between two thin films of magnetic material that will act as a filter or valve that only permits electrons in one of the two states to pass. The filter can be changed from one state to the other using a brief and tiny burst of current. From this simple device it’s hoped to make incredibly tiny chips that will act as super-fast memories whose contents will survive loss of power. The adjective is spintronic.

Page created 7 Mar. 1998

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-spi1.htm
Last modified: 7 March 1998.