A8.2 - Sensing, Storing and Computing - Spinelectronics as a Universal Platform

SENSOR+TEST Conferences 2009
2009-05-26 - 2009-05-28
Congress Center Nürnberg
Proceedings SENSOR 2009, Volume II
A8 - Magnetic Sensors III
G. Reiss, A. Huetten - Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
71 - 76


Within the last decade, the development of micro- and nanoelectronics has led to a large variety of products used in almost any field of everyday’s life. Whereas the most prominent examples are processors and storing devices in computers, nowadays electronics including sensors is integrated more and more in cars, machines and in handheld devices such as mobile phones or digital cameras. For this wide range of applications, a large number of physical effects and technological processes are used to realize sensor devices: Commercial sensor devices are up to now based on various effects such
as Hall effect or Anisotropic Magneto Resistance (AMR).
Following the discoveries of a large magnetoresistance (Giant Magneto Resistance, GMR) in purely metallic thin film systems and an even larger Tunneling Magneto Resistance (TMR) in tunneling junctions with insulating barriers by german, french, american and japanese researchers, these effects were transferred rapidly to applications in read heads for hard disk drives. Additionally, however, they can provide both flexible sensing devices as well as nonvolatile storing and computing. The emerging field of research and development was named “Magneto- or Spinelectronics”. As sketched in this paper, potential applications developed also in the field of communication via the generation of microwaves for, e.g., on chip information transport, in optics and quantum computing. The importance of this development is underlined by the nobel prize in physics awarded in 2007 to Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert for their discovery of the Giant Magneto Resistance effect.
There is of course a large market potential for such a wide variety of applications realized on one technological platform: Nonvolatile storing in RAMs has a market size of more than 100 billion € per year, read heads for hard disk drives are in the range of more than 50 billion € p.a.. Compared to these numbers, the market for sensors with around 5 to 10 billion € p.a. is comparably small, but frequently these sensors are key components for a better performance of complete systems. In this contribution, we concentrate on the sensor applications of these new devices.