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Benjamin Jungfleisch, assistant professor of physics at the University of Delaware, uses laser light to probe dynamics in magnetic nanostructures

August 01, 2019 - US Department of Energy sees powerful potential in spintronics research It sounds like something you might need a bicycle for, but spintronics — a powerful and growing area of study in physics — might really have more in common with a surfboard and its ability to rule the waves.

The term spintronics refers to the study and control of electrons and the magnetic properties that govern their collective motions, the “spin” that gives them tantalizing potential for quantum computing and communication.

The more commonly known focus of electronics is on the charge of electrons. This relatively new paradigm focuses on their spin, a quantum property of electrons, which is always oriented in one of two opposite directions — up or down. That gives them great appeal for use in information transmission, matching the current binary system that uses zeros and ones to deliver all manner of data. Learning to control these properties could revolutionize the speed, storage capacity and security of our computer systems, using far less energy to do so.

That holy grail — quantum computing — is still in the future. But the fundamental research required to bring it to fruition is advancing. The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday, Aug. 1 awarded a prestigious Early Career Research Award to Benjamin Jungfleisch, assistant professor of physics at the University of Delaware, for his study of magnon spintronics. The magnon is the tiniest essence — the “quanta” — of spin waves and Jungfleisch is looking at it as a “building block in the quantum toolbox.”

The award comes with at least $750,000 in research support over the next five years, according to DOE, and is a high-level signal that Jungfleisch’s work shows great promise for advances in the field.

Article by Beth Miller

Photo by Evan Krape