Scientists break the link between a quantum material's spin and orbital states
In designing electronic devices, scientists look for ways to manipulate and control three basic properties of electrons: their charge; their spin states which give rise to magnetism; and the shapes of the fuzzy clouds they form around the nuclei of atoms, which are known as orbitals.
Until now, electron spins and orbitals were thought to go hand in hand in a class of materials that's the cornerstone of modern information technology; you couldn't quickly change one without changing the other. But a study at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory shows that a pulse of laser light can dramatically change the spin state of one important class of materials while leaving its orbital state intact.
The results suggest a new path for making a future generation of logic and memory devices based on "orbitronics," said Lingjia Shen, a SLAC research associate and one of the lead researchers for the study.
The rapid development of (micro)electronic technology has brought a fundamental impact on the new technology revolution. The combination of photonics and electronic technology are promoting communications in the direction of all-optics, and the increasingly deep integration of communications with computers is building a brand-new network society and digital age.
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