Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-02-spintronics-deciphering-material-future-electronics.html#jCp
Topological insulators are the key to future spintronics technologies. EPFL scientists have unraveled how these strange materials work, overcoming one of the biggest obstacles on the way to next-generation applications.
Spintronics is an emerging field of electronics, where instead of using the charge of electrons, devices work by manipulating electron spin. Already tested in hard drives, spintronics are poised to replace current information technology, providing increased data transfer speeds, processing power, memory density and storage capacity. Controlling electron spin can be achieved with topological insulators; a novel class of materials that behave as insulators on the inside, but are highly conductive on their surfaces. However, it has been unclear how exactly a normal material can become a topological insulator, and also how to implement them for real technological impact. Publishing in Physical Review Letters, EPFL scientists offer solutions to both problems by studying the spin structure of few atoms-thick films of a common topological insulator.