While most electronic devices rely on the flow of electrons' charge, the scientific community is feverishly searching for new ways to revolutionize electronics by designing materials and methods to control other inherent electron traits, such as their orbits around atoms and their spin, which can be thought of as a compass needle tuned to face in different directions.
In the latest study, detailed in the May 23 online edition of the journal Advanced Materials, scientists working at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry and Advanced Light Source (ALS) confirmed a chirality, or handedness, in the transition regions - called domain walls - between neighboring magnetic domains that have opposite spins.
Scientists hope to control chirality - analogous to right-handedness or left-handedness - to control magnetic domains and convey zeros and ones as in conventional computer memory.
The samples were composed of an amorphous alloy of gadolinium and cobalt, sandwiched between ultrathin layers of platinum and iridium, which are known to strongly impact neighboring spins.
In this latest study, the material samples used in experiments were amorphous, or noncrystalline, which means their atomic structure was disordered.
Such a flipping mechanism is a critical enabling technology for spintronics and variant fields of research that are based on the electron's spin property.