Thursday, May 03, 2007

GMMs, QGPs, and BNL (at the USPTO?)

I'm a little slow on the uptake this week, with all the interesting things to write about (and photos to take, etc. -- i have a fantastic new 50mm fixed lens for my Nikon...). But I didn't want to let this one pass me (and thus you all) by, since it involves one of those bizarre-but-true synergies you could only get at a place like BNL:
An interdisciplinary group of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has devised methods to make a new class of electronic devices based on a property of electrons known as “spin,” rather than merely their electric charge. This approach, dubbed spintronics, could open the way to increasing dramatically the productivity of electronic devices operating at the nanoscale — on the order of billionths of a meter. The Brookhaven scientists have filed a U.S. provisional patent application for their invention, which is now available for licensing.
The topic is doing spintronics (making logic gates, etc.) using "graphene-magnet multilayers" (GMMs), a 2 dimensional layer of graphite in a hexagonal pattern which can propagate spin excitations:

“Graphene is quite unique,” Zaliznyak says, “in that an ideally balanced sheet is neither a conductor nor an insulator. Related to this is the fact that electrons in graphene behave in such a way that their mass effectively vanishes!” In other words, he explains, they move without inertia, like rays of light or particles accelerated to relativistic speeds — that is, close to the speed of light.

Such relativistic particles are studied at Brookhaven at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a nuclear physics facility where scientists are trying to understand the fundamental properties and forces of matter. RHIC theoretical physicist Dmitri Kharzeev and condensed matter physicist Alexei Tsvelik have collaborated with Zaliznyak to gain a better understanding of the physics of magnetized graphene.

Now if only they'd forget about this patent business, I could actually tell you what they were talking about. But who knew RHIC physics would apply to 2D spin systems?...

No comments: