PHY 581B is an introduction to the emerging and active field of “spintronics” or “spin electronics”, a domain founded by Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg (Nobel 2007). Spintronics is a new electronics field. Unlike conventional electronics, it exploits the spin properties of the electron, not just its charge. Spintronics combines basic quantum physics and nanotechnologies. Devices based on spintronics will have a deep impact on the future of electronics. Current components range from magnetoresistive read heads, based on Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) or Tunnel (TMR) - which represent a huge market since they are the magnetic sensors used in hard drives - to magnetoresistive permanent memories (MRAMs), which have recently become commercially available. In the medium or long term, very high-density memories spin transistors, spin-transfer oscillators, spin lasers, devices for logic or quantum computation will be developed.

For example, in this teaching module, we analyze in detail the creative approach that made it possible to channel a physical concept - TMR - into the realization of commercial MRAMs or magnetic logic units for real-time cryptography. Various subfields will be considered, such as spin injection, local and non-local accumulation, spin Hall effects (direct or inverse), spin caloritronics, spin-transfer torques, spinorbitronics, topological matter, etc.

The module is organized in working sessions of 4 hours, based on the study of pioneering articles, and fundamental or industry-oriented conferences. Written documents will be systematically given to attendees. The main point is to quickly reach the level of research, introducing the concepts and methods that make it possible to understand recent papers. The final exam consists of an oral presentation on research articles, on the model of a conference. The teaching module can naturally be extended to a research internship in France or abroad, often leading to publications in international journals.


Research internship: This course can be followed by an internship as part of PHY 593 and organized in France or abroad, in academic or industrial environments.

End of course assessment: Study and oral presentation of research papers as part of a student seminar.
Course is given in English (in French if all the attendees are French speaking).