Short-wavelength speedy ‘spin waves’ have communication potential

A method for creating and directing fast moving waves in magnetic fields has the potential to enhance communication and information processing in computer chips and other consumer products. 

The method, from researchers at New York University and reported in Nanotechnology, employs spin waves that move in magnetic materials and efficiently transfer energy and information.

’Spin waves hold tremendous promise in improving the functionality of a range of technologies,’ said Andrew Kent, a professor in NYU’s Department of Physics and one of the paper’s co-authors. ’Our results mark another vital step in harnessing a resource that is faster and more energy efficient that what we rely on today.’

Currently, electromagnetic waves in antennas can be converted into spin waves but the resulting waves have a long wavelength and propagate slowly.

In contrast, short-wavelength spin waves can move over greater distances, more quickly, and with less energy, and present the possibility of improving a range of communications and electronic devices. Creating them, however, is said to be difficult. 

To overcome this obstacle, the NYU researchers developed so-called spin torque nano-oscillators (STNO), which convert a direct current into spin waves.

According to a statement, they showed that these oscillators can be arranged in arrays to direct the spin wave energy, much the way antennas are used to direct electromagnetic waves.

Crucially, they developed a method that allows the spin waves to navigate in specific patterns and directions throughout a magnetic material.

Their idea relies on the interference of waves and controlling the interference to produce specific wave propagation patterns.

The research was supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship, a grant from the Army Research Office, and Neurocir