What is Spin-Engineering?

Spin engineering combines basic research with the development of new technical applications. Methods are being explored for, on the one hand, to detect various Spin-Phenomena and, on the other hand, to control and manipulate spins in a targeted manner. These manipulation possibilities can be used, for example, to produce a specific spin configuration in a thin magnetic layer. Structures consisting of several such layers are used for the application of spin phenomena, as used, for example, in new spintronic storage media (see below). Other materials that can be developed by spin engineering are magnetic nanoparticles or magnetic molecules. Knowledge of spin is also applied in powerful analysis tools, such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

What is spintronics?

Spintronics is understood to be a special form of electronics. In traditional electronics, electrical currents or voltages are used to transmit information. The basis for these currents and voltages are the charges of electrons. In spintronics, instead of charge, the spin of electrons is exploited. Special materials are used for this purpose, which are researched and manufactured using spin engineering techniques. 

Various physical effects can form a basis for the development of spintronic devices. An example: If there is a magnetic field in a conductor, the electrical resistance for electrons whose spin points in the direction of the magnetic field is lower than for electrons with the opposite spin. If the spin of all electrons in the conductor points in the same direction, then a change in the direction of the magnetic field in the conductor has a major influence on its resistance. In this way, magnetic fields can be measured very precisely. This technique is used in various sensors that are used, for example, in modern storage media such as hard drives (for a more detailed explanation, see "The GMR Effect).

The GMR Effect