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Spintronics and moltronics

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Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 (2014) 100301 (2pp)



Spintronics and moltronics Guest Editor Hideaki Kasai

Department of Precision Science and Technology and Applied Physics, Osaka University, 2-1 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan Center for Atomic and Molecular Technologies, Osaka University, 2-1 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan E-mail: [email protected]


There have been countless occasions in the history of modern science when it has been necessary to invent novel words to describe a previously unknown phenomenon or entity. Spintronics and moltronics are two of these. Roughly, ‘spintronics’ is spin-electronics and ‘moltronics’ is molecular-electronics. These are two intertwining fields that serve as the foundation for many advanced technologies, ranging from semiconductors through microelectronics to quantum computation. Spintronics was coined by S A Wolf in 1996 as a name for novel magnetic materials and devices. It is an emerging multidisciplinary field whose central theme is the control of the spin degrees of freedom of the electron. Whereas conventional devices utilize the electron charge, spintronic devices exploit the intrinsic spin of the electron. Fundamental studies in this field include the investigation of spin transport, spin dynamics and spin relaxation. This offers the opportunity to design a new generation of devices that combine electron spin-dependent effects and standard microelectronics. Our understanding of spin-polarized transport dates back to the pioneering work of N F Mott in 1936, in which he discovered that the current in ferromagnets is spin polarized. As such, the conductivity in ferromagnetic metals can be expressed as the sum of two independent parts, i.e., for electrons of majority and minority spins with magnetic moments parallel and antiparallel to the magnetization of a ferromagnet. When the giant magnetoresistive (GMR) effect was discovered in 1988, spin-based electronics emerged. The GMR sandwich structure, consisting of alternating ferromagnetic and nonmagnetic metal layers, is a prototype device used in the industry as a read head and memory-storage cell. In moltronics, the unifying feature is the use of molecular building blocks in electronic circuits. By bringing out the intrinsic quantum mechanical nature of molecules, novel devices can be designed with characteristics that cannot be achieved with equivalent solid-state devices. This offers opportunities for the molecular-level control of properties, and this provides a potential means for size reduction in electronics. Despite the fact that the fundamental concepts of spintronics and moltronics emerged many years ago, it is only in the last decade, during which experimental methods have become robust and theoretical methods have been developed, that important experimental and theoretical challenges have been overcome. The remaining challenges continue to form an active and exciting field of research for both experimentalists and theoreticians. In this special section of J. Phys.: Condens. Matter we provide research papers from both the experimental and theoretical fields to give insights into the current state of spintronics and moltronics. We showcase works from Birnbaum [1], Freimuth [2], Lorente [3], Lazic [4], Seike [5] and Boero [6] on topics that span from electron transport phenomena to optical and magneto-optical properties. We wish to thank all the authors who have contributed to this issue, the unnamed referees who meticulously reviewed the manuscripts, and the publishing staff for making this possible. 1

c 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd

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J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 (2014) 100301


References Birnbaum T et al 2014 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 104201 Freimuth F, Blugel S and Mokrousov Y 2014 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 104202 Kepenekian M, Gauyacq J P and Lorente N 2014 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 104203 Sipahi G, Zutic I, Atodiresei N, Kawakami R and Lazic P 2014 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 104204 [5] Seike M, Fukushima T, Sato K and Yoshida H 2014 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 104205 [6] Mbongo Djimbi D, Le Roux S, Massobrio C and Boero M 2014 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26 104206 [1] [2] [3] [4]


Spintronics and moltronics.

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