Efficient valves for electron spins

Illustration of the spin valve: Both quantum dots (dashed ellipses) on the nanowire are tuned by nanomagnets (brown bars) such that they only allow electrons with an “up” spin to pass. If the orientation of one of the magnets is changed, the current flow is suppressed. (Illustration: University of Basel, Department of Physics)

Researchers at the University of Basel in collaboration with colleagues from Pisa have developed a new concept that uses the electron spin to switch an electrical current. In addition to fundamental research, such spin valves are also the key elements in spintronics – a type of electronics that exploits the spin instead of the charge of electrons. The results were published in the scientific journal Communications Physics.