Editor's Summary

9 October 2008

Thermospintronics: spintronics just got hotter

In 1821, Thomas Johann Seebeck found that electricity is generated from heat: the thermoelectric or Seebeck effect is used to generate electric power and also in the thermocouple, commonly used for temperature sensing. In the thermocouple two pieces of metal with different Seebeck coefficients, which determine the ratio of generated voltage to the temperature difference, are connected to each other. In theory there should be a 'spintronic' equivalent of the thermocouple — and now there is one in practice. Uchida et al. used a recently developed spin detection technique based on the spin Hall effect to demonstrate the spin-Seebeck effect for the first time, using it to obtain pure spin currents, a flow of spins without electric currents, over millimetre distances. The spin-Seebeck effect can generate the 'spin power' to drive spintronic devices, opening the way to the development of thermospintronics.

News and ViewsSolid-state physics: Recipe for spin currents

Generating currents that rely on the spins of electrons to make electronic devices requiring less power is both desirable and daunting. A neat way of creating such currents eases that task.

N. P. Ong


LetterObservation of the spin Seebeck effect

K. Uchida, S. Takahashi, K. Harii, J. Ieda, W. Koshibae, K. Ando, S. Maekawa & E. Saitoh