Going beyond electronics is a concept that has been well discussed and researched for quite a number of years. The most popular ideas included photonics, and quite recently, spintronics. The field of spintronics in particular, is of special interest in today’s consumer tech, and a new Japanese research may just make the concept even closer to reality.
Researchers at Touhoku University Institute for Materials Research and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) have recently confirmed that surface plasmon resonance can be an important tool in generating spin currents. Surface plasmon resonance, in simple terms, is the reactive vibration of electrons at a point on a surface (which is usually a metal) hit by an incident light. It is a phenomenon that is well used in biosensors and lab-on-a-chip systems, due to the distinct, measurable, and predictable wavelengths the vibrations produce.
In their latest published research paper named “Generation of spin currents by surface plasmon resonance“, the researchers have observed that by directing light onto a magnetic material that contains a special metal particle, a spin current can be produced, and thus controlled. The manipulation and generation of spin currents is the fundamental principle of spintronics, where a spin moment of a single electron particle can be used to store data or transfer energy, in a manner that is similar to quantum computers.
As of this moment, the common methods used to control spin currents are via heat, sound waves, and magnetic fields, with magnetic fields as the current best candidate in the eventual commercialization of the technology. With the introduction of a new element that can control spin currents, the research sees the development of newer, more advanced energy transfer and conversion technologies, which could optimize spintronics technology on an even larger scale.
For instance, a surface plasmon resonance-based spintronics system can be integrated on solar energy systems, where panels could be designed to not only convert energy via sunlight, but also generate energy using the spin currents driven by the same sunlight. Another possible use of the concept is the development of a grid-free integrated energy system that involves the use of a number of different spin current generating principles.
In fact, the research even predicts the development in the near future of a new branch of study involving surface plasmon resonance-based commercial spintronics systems, just as how electronics eventually made its way from lab research to commercialization during the early 20th century.