Towards voltage-driven nano-spintronics: A review

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Abstract

Nano-spintronics or nano-spin-electronics is a highly emergent technology that has revolutionized information and communication technologies offering non-volatility in high-density recorded information and an increase of the data processing speed by exploiting both the fundamental charge of electrons as well as their spin degree of freedom in nanoscale devices. The utilization of electric currents, though, poses a challenge in terms of minimization of electric power consumption. Magnetic storage systems and magneto-electronic devices are conventionally controlled by means of magnetic fields (via electromagnetic induction) or using spin-polarized electric currents (spin-transfer torque). Both principles involve significant energy loss by heat dissipation (Joule effect). The replacement of electric current with voltage (or electric field) to control the processing of information would drastically reduce the overall power consumption. Strain-mediated magneto-electric coupling in piezoelectric-magnetostrictive bilayers might appear a proper strategy to achieve this goal. However, this approach is not so suitable in spintronics because of the clamping effects with the substrate, need of epitaxial interfaces and risk of fatigue-induced mechanical failure. The exciting possibility to control ferromagnetism of metals and semiconductors directly with electric field (without strain) has been reported in recent years, but most significant effects occur below 300 K and only in ultra-thin films and nanoparticles. Herein, we provide an overview of the progress in voltage-driven magneto-electric effects in different types of magnetic materials and systems at the nanoscale. The possibility to use these effects in real applications (e.g., electrically-assisted high-density recording media, magnetic random access memories and spin field effect transistors) is described. The ongoing progress in the understanding of these effects is likely to open new paradigms in the field of spintronics and will certainly have a high economic transcendence.

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Zhang, J., Pellicer, E., & Sort, J. (2017). Towards voltage-driven nano-spintronics: A review. In Commercialization of Nanotechnologies-A Case Study Approach (pp. 99–115). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56979-6_5

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