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Nuclear Spins Control Current in Plastic Led

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An organic light-emitting diode glows orange when electrical current flows through it.

University of Utah physicists used this kind of organic light-emitting diode to show they could read the subatomic spins in the center or nuclei of hydrogen isotopes and use those spins to control current to the OLED.

Credit: Andy Brimhall, University of Utah Marketing and Communications

University of Utah researchers conducted an experiment in which they read the subatomic spin in the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes and used the data to drive current that powered light in an inexpensive plastic light-emitting diode (LED). The researchers say the breakthrough, which was realized at room temperature and without strong magnetic fields, brings physics closer to the development of quantum computers, more compact data storage devices, and plastic or organic LEDs (OLEDs).

The researchers found they were able to flip the spins of the hydrogen nuclei to control electrical current flowing though the OLED, making the current stronger or weaker. "This experiment is remarkable because the magnetic forces created by the nuclei are millions of times smaller than the electrostatic forces that usually drive currents," yet they were able to control currents, says Utah professor Christoph Boehme.

He also notes harnessing nuclear spins can boost the efficiency of electronic materials, and it raises the question of whether this effect can be used for technological applications such as computer chips that use nuclear spins as memory and this method as a way to read the spins.

He says storing information using both spins and electrical charge should give spintronic devices greater storage capacity and faster data-processing ability.

From University of Utah News
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