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CSU Researchers Awarded $1M Grant from Keck for Nanoscale Electronics

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FORT COLLINS, Colo., Aug. 29, 2018 — The W.M. Keck Foundation has awarded Colorado State University (CSU) a three-year $1 million grant to make and measure nanoscale spin waves in the quest to revolutionize nanoscale electronics as a means to transmit signals.

The manipulation of electron spin – the phenomenon that exploits the magnetic fields of each electron as it spins like a top – is an emerging frontier in quantum physics called spintronics. CSU researchers think they have what it takes to provide unprecedented control of these spinning tops by finding new ways to make, measure, and control ripples that can be launched through magnetic materials known as spin waves. Scientists have proposed and simulated, but not yet realized, various concepts for novel nanoscale spin wave circuitry.

Generating spin waves with uncommonly short wavelengths and developing a first-of-its-kind tabletop soft x-ray microscope to see and study these waves are the goals of the project, which will be led by Kristen Buchanan, associate professor of physics at CSU. If the researchers are successful in using the phenomenon of spin waves as a means to transmit signals, they will lay the groundwork for low-power nonvolatile storage of electronic information, or for applications like quantum computers and nanoscale oscillators.

"Magnetic materials have already had a huge impact on society through microwave electronics, sensors, and magnetic storage devices," Buchanan said. "The physics of magnetic materials is quite rich, and there is a lot of potential that is so far untapped to look for new ways to transmit and process information."

The Keck Foundation is known for supporting high-risk projects with potential for big scientific payoff – projects that are difficult to find funding for otherwise. The CSU team's unique blend of expertise in magnetics, x-ray science, optics, and imaging provides an ideal platform for probing fundamental questions about the emerging scientific area of spintronics, Buchanan said. The CSU-based collaboration will allow the team to maintain flexibility as they work together, adjusting their modeling or experimental approach as needed, and working at a more rapid pace than would be possible otherwise.
Aug 2018
BusinessKeck FoundationW.M. KeckColorado State UniversityCSUawardsfundingnanoopticsimagingAmericasspintronics

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