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Summary and Objectives


The overarching objective of this network is to significantly enhance the employment prospects of our fellows by: (a) choosing a scientific subject that has high impact and is close to exploitation, (b) ensuring that all researchers receive scientific and complementary skills training that is relevant to industry and academia, (c) providing projects in world-leading laboratories, with world-class personnel and collaborating with industrial giants (IBM and Hitachi), and (d) ensuring that all the researchers spend a secondment with our industrial partners. Pure spin currents and their fundamental understanding is the scientific objective of SPINICUR. As the culmination of this network we aim to explore the fundamentals of spin amplification in designs such as the spin-torque transistor. Thus our technical objective is to apply the knowledge gained about spin currents to real devices.

Research Approach, Methodology And Integration

The technological demands of producing modern electronic devices are best understood by those who fabricate them commercially. SPINICUR has three partners (IBM, Hitachi-Cambridge and INESC- MN) who are world leaders in applied spintronics. The creation of the next generation of devices requires techniques at the very brink of what is possible: thin film deposition, nano-fabrication, ferromagnetic resonance, UHV growth, x-ray diffraction, AFM/MFM/STM, high-resolution magnetic imaging (spin-SEM), FIB, magnetotransport measurements and advanced theoretical techniques for spin transport. We should make it clear at the outset that there is no unique materials system, nor is there a single device architecture which can be certain to deliver the properties required for an advance in spintronics. Consequently, this programme is structured to stimulate creativity and minimise risk by running parallel work packages concentrating on a variety of approaches. The key role of industry here is in understanding the relative merits and guiding us to optimising performance. However, it is the novel ideas and complementary approaches, supported by a range of state-of-the art techniques and strong connectivity across the network, which will provide enhanced training for ESRs and drive the project forward.

The programme will begin by theoretically and experimentally understanding the basic science of spin current generation, transmission and detection. The optimised spin current circuits can then be used as the basis for understanding the potential for logic operations based on spin and spin transistor concepts. The most promising of these will be developed to provide an assessment of the application potential of spin-current based circuits. Our partners UCAM, INESC, and LEEDS will contribute with many years of experience in top-level material growth, providing a secure route for successful device realization.

In order to maximise the potential for creative results, we have built strong connections between theory and experiment. Our theory partners (TUD and NTNU) are world leaders in spintronics in general and have already published widely on model systems for spin transistors that will be realised in this network. They have been embedded in all relevant parts of the programme and in addition to suggesting courses of action informed by prediction, they will also guide us in understanding and modelling the results of experiments.

Integration Activities

Several partners will be involved in each of the tasks as set out in the Work Programme. The WP tables indicate the high level of interconnectivity through the number of partners involved in each task. Nearly all of the ESRs have projects that cut across most of the tasks. This structure is designed to bring complementary approaches to bear on the problem and to enhance team working. Maximum integration will be ensured through the mechanism of sample and personnel transfer. For example, samples produced in LEEDS or UREG will be taken to INESC for device processing and some to IBM for magnetic characterisation by spin-SEM. This circulation of samples will address two problems: this is the best way to minimise between-sample variations and, secondly, the papers for publication will have several partners as joint authors. Strong teams will be built by joint ownership of results arising through collaboration. The network will become so well integrated that there will be very few ‘individual actions’. Although there is considerable overlap in the abilities of many of the partners, all have been chosen for at least one unique speciality.Many of the teams involved have already collaborated together in other projects especially at EU level. They are therefore experienced in operating training networks and have successful track records of collaboration with each other. This core will give a solid base of common understanding and mutual respect that will greatly facilitate the operation of the network.