Researchers tracking single-electron spins

August 12, 2004 – Researchers at UCLA and Los Alamos National Labs claim they are now able to detect the spin of a single electron in a standard silicon transistor, another step toward being able to monitor and even manipulate them for use in quantum-computing devices.

The scientists electrically detected the spin resonance of a single electron in the gate oxide of a standard silicon transistor; the spin orientation was converted to an electrical charge, measured with a field-effect transistor. The research was funded by the US Department of Defense, through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Defense Microelectronics Activity agency.

By analyzing electron spin decoherence, which governs how quantum objects lose their wavelike characteristics through interactions with outside forces, scientists hope to be able to develop a better understanding of magnetic resonance imaging at the molecular level, as well as how to create nanoscale electronics and progress toward quantum computing.

In addition to being utilized for use with silicon ICs, where long decoherence times are especially attractive, understanding single-electron spin physics will allow researchers to individually study single defects and their environments at the semiconductor-insulator interfaces.


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