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Dr. Supriyo Bandyopadhyay: Spintronics Drives Next-Gen Computing

by Editor1 last modified January 17, 2008 - 20:31

One of the fathers of Spintronics, Dr. Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Quantum Device Laboratory, says research and principals from this cutting-edge nanoscience could drive computing’s next era.

Dr. Supriyo Bandyopadhyay: Spintronics Drives Next-Gen Computing

Dr. Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Quantum Device Laboratory, says research and principals from spintronics, a cutting-edge nanoscience, will drive computing’s next era.

“Spin based computers can be powered by small lightweight batteries. I am particularly interested in organic spintronics. Organics can sustain spin memory for very long times and organics can be integrated with flexible substrates. One day that may lead to wearable spin based organic supercomputers housed in a wristwatch and powered by a wristwatch battery,” Dr. Bandyopadhyay told NanoScineceWorks.org.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay also serves as Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Physics at VCU.

“My research on spin-based computing has applications in extremely low power computing. When binary data is encoded in the spin polarization of an electron, one can switch the data by simply flipping the spin, without moving charges and causing a current flow. This results in tremendous amount of energy saving since the power dissipated in driving a current is usually a lot more than the power required to flip spins [S. Bandyopadhyay, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Vol. 7, 168 (2007)].

His experiments have shown an electron's spin relaxation time can be extremely long in organic nanostructures. “We measured the relaxation time in a 50-nm diameter organic nanowires of the pi-conjugated organic semiconductor Alq_3 and found that the time can be as long as one second up to a temperature of 100 K. That is a million times longer than what one typically finds in inorganic semiconductors [S. Pramanik, C-G Stefanita, S. Patibandla, S. Bandyopadhyay, K. Garre, N. Harth and M. Cahay, Nature Nanotechnology, Vol. 2, 216 (2007)]. This raises hopes for spin based computing,” Dr. Bandyopadhyay told NanoScienceWorks.

“I was one of the early proponents of using the spin of a single electron to encode information,” Bandyopadhyay said. “I proposed this idea in 1994, before spintronics was popular. [S. Bandyopadhyay, B. Das and A. E. Miller, Nanotechnology, Vol. 5, 113 (1994)]. This idea has evolved and now gained widespread popularity in the context of quantum computing.

The Many Facets of
Self-Assembly for Spintronics
Dr. Bandyopadhyay’s fascination with quantum computing and spintronics well predates his work at VCU. Prior to his current post, working with a group at the University of Nebraska and University of Notre Dame, he patented a technique that successfully produces well ordered arrays of quantum dots 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. These quantum dots, that spontaneously organize themselves into regimented arrays by a process known as “self assembly”, could be hosts for electron spins that encode binary information.

Today, at VCU Dr. Bandyopadhyay continues to build on that early spintronics and self assembly work in many intriguing directions, thanks to collaborations with researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the Canadian National Research Council, the Wright Patterson Air Force Lab and the Universite Lyon in France, among others.

“My research has many facets,” says Bandyopadhay. “We focus on self assembling nanostructures and study their electronic, optical and magnetic properties…. We recently found that self-assembled nanostructures have striking field emission properties and can act as cold cathodes for microwave generators that have applications in cell phones, TVs, communications, etc. This has some folks in the microwave industry excited” Bandyopadhyay said.

What especially excites Bandyopadhyay about his latest research – and the new direction for spintronics research -- is “the possibility of creating interesting devices and systems using chemical self-assembly. This does not require a multi-billion dollar facility and makes nanotechnology accessible to many.” He is also hoping to move in the direction of non-conventional approaches to computing and signal processing. “We have explored neuromorphic computing paradigms and found that they are more synergistic with nanotechnology than conventional Boolean logic paradigms. This is an example of a non-traditional approach working.”

The Nano-Spin Zone:
Inside the Computing Power of Spintronics
To understand why spintronics and nanoscale particles, such as quantum dots could be important to 21st century computing, one needs to simply understand that quantum dots permit very high information storage density. But that also carries a price; it causes a large amount of heat generation per unit area or unit volume. In that scenario, low power computing with spins can come in handy and lead to highly efficient computers.

Finally, quantum mechanics lends a helping hand. If the spins in 1,000 quantum dots could be entangled with each other, which is a very difficult feat but theoretically possible, then one could build a quantum computer that would far outstrip the possibilities of all classical computers. The prowess of such a computer will be greater than the combined prowess of all the classical computers that could be built with all the material available in the universe over the life of the universe.

About Supriyo Bandyopadhyay
Supriyo Bandyopadhyay was born in Kolkata, India. He received his Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Electrical Communications Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India; his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette.

He has served as a faculty member at Purdue, University of Notre Dame and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, before joining VCU. Research conducted in his lab has been featured in Business Week, EE Times, Microtechnology Alert, Bangkok Post, nanotechweb.org and many news media in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay is a Fellow of IEEE, American Physical Society, Institute of Physics, the Electrochemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also serves in the editorial board of four international journals and is currently a Vice President of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Nanotechnology Council. Additionally, he chairs the IEEE Electron Device Society’s Technical Committee on Compound Semiconductor Devices and Circuits and the IEEE Nanotechnology Council’s Technical Committee on Spintronics.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay is a contributor to the 2007 Handbook of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology, Second Edition (CRC Press), and the author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed research articles.