Header image of books


Pronounced /ˌspɪnˈtrɒnɪks/Help with pronunciation

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.

Search World Wide Words

Support this website!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 7 Mar. 1998

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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