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Electron Flow Magnetizing Graphene for Microelectronic Products

A University of Manchester research team led by Professor Andre Geim, has discovered that electric current or a flow of electrons can magnetize grapheme.

This development could be a step forward towards spintronics. The research paper has appeared in Science.

Spintronics is a set of technologies that use the electron spin, along with its basic electric charge used in microelectronics. Spintronics products including sensors and memories are being developed currently. Hard disks are equipped with magnetic sensors utilizing a flow of spins, and magnetic random access memory (MRAM) chips.

The discovery has been part of a global initiative conducted along with research teams from the US, Russia, Japan and the Netherlands. Spintronics connects the electron spin to the flow of electric current since current can be controlled by methods utilized in microelectronics. Geim says spintronics basically changes electricity into magnetism or magnetism into electricity.

The researchers applied a slightly weak magnetic field to graphene and discovered that it resulted in a flow of spins in a perpendicular direction to the electric current, causing a graphene sheet to be magnetized. The result could be tuned by using different external magnetic fields. The team also revealed that graphene kept on boron nitride is suitable for spintronics since the magnetism from the current path spreads across macroscopic distances without damage. The team says this development could help modify current spintronics products and develop spin-based transistors.

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