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Volume 8 Issue 6, June 2013

Novel memory devices have been proposed in which the information is stored and transferred by magnetic domain walls that move along magnetic nanoscale tracks. However, one of the main challenges for practical implementation is the difficulty in stopping the domain walls at precise locations in a dynamically controlled way. Now, Bauer and colleagues have demonstrated that a voltage applied to a top electrode can trap and release, on demand, domain walls moving in a magnetic film beneath the electrode (the cover image is a composite of four magneto-optical Kerr effect images taken over a period of 9.8 ms and shows a single domain wall moving from right to left). This all-electrical method to bring fast moving domain walls to a standstill with nanoscale precision allows realization of a three-bit domain-wall memory.

Letter p411 ; News & Views p391

IMAGE: UWE BAUER

COVER DESIGN: ALEX WING

Editorial

  • The field of molecular electronics originally set out to build computers, but silicon-based technology is unlikely to be replaced anytime soon. Nevertheless, the field has developed into a highly interdisciplinary endeavour, which could have a variety of ramifications that extend beyond computing.

    Editorial

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Commentary

  • The field of molecular electronics has been around for more than 40 years, but only recently have some fundamental problems been overcome. It is now time for researchers to move beyond simple descriptions of charge transport and explore the numerous intrinsic features of molecules.

    • Mark Ratner
    Commentary
  • Inexpensive, functional and atomically precise molecules could be the basis of future electronic devices, but integrating them into circuits will require the development of new ways to control the interface between molecules and electrodes.

    • Emanuel Lörtscher
    Commentary
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Feature

  • Leading researchers in molecular electronics discuss the motivation behind their work and what they consider to be the grand challenges for the field.

    Feature
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Voltage-controlled traps can halt the motion of fast magnetic domain walls in nanowires.

    • T. J. Hayward
    • D. A. Allwood
    News & Views
  • Spontaneously formed natural nanostructures are responsible for a glass-like thermal conductivity in a perfectly crystalline semiconductor.

    • Austin J. Minnich
    News & Views
  • Microcavity polaritons can be used to create optical switches, which could serve as the basic component of optical logic circuits.

    • David Snoke
    News & Views
  • Experiments with triple quantum dot devices show that distant qubits can be directly coupled and suggest a potential route to the development of fast, complex quantum circuits.

    • David J. Reilly
    News & Views
  • Unimolecular block copolymer micelles can be used as a template to synthesize nanoparticles with a diverse range of sizes, compositions and architectures.

    • Eugene R. Zubarev
    News & Views
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Review Article

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Letter

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Article

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Focus

  • Since the early 1970s, researchers have looked to use individual molecules as functional building blocks in electronic circuits, but the field of molecular electronics has been hampered by significant experimental challenges and practical devices have remained elusive. Recent improvements in the study of single-molecule junctions have, however, led to the discovery of a variety of novel effects, which could have an impact on a range of applications. This focus issue examines the challenges and opportunities for the field.

    Focus
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