The phenomenon of the spin transfer effect has received much attention due to its promise for the electronics industry. In the phenomenon, a current can give a jolt to thin magnetic layers sandwiched between non-magnetic materials. This jolt can be used to excite oscillations or even flip the orientation of the magnet.
© Fotolia, 2013
Devices utilising spin transfer torque are faster, smaller, and require less power to switch. The electronics industry is thus looking for ways to utilise it as they believe it has great potential to enhance their product offering.
Mindful of the technology's potential, the €2,831,277 Marie Curie Actions (MCAs) SPINSWITCH Network brought together 15 leading European research groups to explore the scientific foundation and potential of the spin transfer effect on high frequency and ultrafast switching applications. It also trained Early Stage Researchers (ESR) and Experienced Researchers (ER), preparing them for future entry into the scientific work force. The Network was launched on 1 October 2006 and was operational for a period of 48 months.
SPINSWITCH provided comprehensive, state-of-the-art scientific and complementary training for 18 young researchers from Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Belarus, Algeria, China and Mexico. "As well as providing money and support for each researcher, we actively encouraged them to identify their specific training needs which we took on board and implemented," said SPINSWITCH Project Coordinator, Prof. Dr. Burkard Hillebrands.
SPINSWITCH focused on a number of well-defined, specific, scientific tasks concerning advanced technical applications. A strong team-work approach linked fundamental studies, modelling theory, advanced characterisation and work on model structures for applications. The Network also worked closely with the industrial research laboratories of both Siemens and Thales as well as independent research centres. This cooperation accelerated results and provided industrial guidance.
Research results from the SPINSWITCH Network have appeared in 86 leading scientific publications. The results were also presented at 168 conferences at both national and international level. In addition, two single partner patents were published and another is pending. Finally, Albert Fert, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007, was actively involved in the network.
Mobility was a big part of SPINSWITCH. The researchers have undertaken 24 secondments and 31 visits to other network partners where they gained valuable experience by learning new techniques. Numerous workshops and a summer school were also organised to develop not only scientific competences but also communication skills, networking and team work. To integrate effectively with their hosts, many researchers even took language courses.
SPINSWITCH finished in September 2010 but its legacy lives on. The vast majority of fellows are now highly trained and have started their careers, with many working in corporations as well as in university and independent research centres. One fellow has even established a start-up company with a SPINSWITCH partner.