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  • Scientist Honored for 'Spintronic' Microchips
Sep 2006
LONDON, Sept. 12, 2006 -- A scientist who has shown that magnetic microchips can store hundreds of gigabytes of information has won a European science-to-business award for both his work and his plan to commercialize the technology.

The "spintronic" microchips, which work by using the spin of electrons -- as opposed to the charge of electrons which forms the basis of traditional electronics -- will be able to store massive amounts of data on a tiny chip. Currently, storing such levels of data requires the use of a hard disk, which can be bulky and which needs access to a large battery power source. Spintronic microchips would mean that portable devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and iPods would be able to store vast quantities of image, audio and video files, while remaining very small and light.Cowburn.jpg
The work of professor Russell Cowburn from Imperial College London proves that tiny spintronic microchips can store massive amounts of data.
Professor Russell Cowburn from Imperial College London's Department of Physics received the Degussa European Science-to-Business Award 2006 yesterday for both his scientific work and his business plan to spin out the new technology for commercial use. The award consists of a 100,000 euro ($127,000) cash prize and the opportunity to attend a business management course at Insead, a French business school. He will also receive assistance with business planning from Insead.

"My research has proven that spintronic microchips are a workable proposition, which has huge implications for the way everyday electronics devices will work in the future. As mobile technology develops, people are looking for ways to store ever-larger numbers of files on their iPods and phones, and the small, spintronic chips will enable them to do this on thin, lightweight devices," Cowburn said.

German chemical company Degussa launched the Science-to-Business Award this year to reward young scientists who have undertaken outstanding innovative research with excellent commercialization potential in the field of material sciences and related technologies at research facilities in Europe.

The award's goal is to provide significant financial and conceptual support to these scientists and their outstanding research work. In addition, the award aims to further strengthen Europe's position in key technologies and the consequent transformation of scientific knowledge into innovation and commercial success.

Cowburn's spintronic research was funded by Ingenia Holdings Ltd. and the European Union's Sixth Framework programme. For more information, visit:

A charged elementary particle of an atom; the term is most commonly used in reference to the negatively charged particle called a negatron. Its mass at rest is me = 9.109558 x 10-31 kg, its charge is 1.6021917 x 10-19 C, and its spin quantum number is 1/2. Its positive counterpart is called a positron, and possesses the same characteristics, except for the reversal of the charge.
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