The emergence of spin electronics in data storage

Nat Mater. 2007 Nov;6(11):813-23. doi: 10.1038/nmat2024.


Electrons have a charge and a spin, but until recently these were considered separately. In classical electronics, charges are moved by electric fields to transmit information and are stored in a capacitor to save it. In magnetic recording, magnetic fields have been used to read or write the information stored on the magnetization, which 'measures' the local orientation of spins in ferromagnets. The picture started to change in 1988, when the discovery of giant magnetoresistance opened the way to efficient control of charge transport through magnetization. The recent expansion of hard-disk recording owes much to this development. We are starting to see a new paradigm where magnetization dynamics and charge currents act on each other in nanostructured artificial materials. Ultimately, 'spin currents' could even replace charge currents for the transfer and treatment of information, allowing faster, low-energy operations: spin electronics is on its way.