Electron Spin Polarization in Nanoscale Constrictions

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Science  12 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5664, pp. 1621-1622
DOI: 10.1126/science.1094520

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In nanometer channels made from extremely pure semiconductors, the electrical conductance is quantized. Recent experiments have suggested that the electrons in such a structure can exhibit a spontaneous alignment of their spins, even if the material is nonmagnetic. In their Perspective, Bird and Ochiai discuss current work on this phenomenon. Consensus is growing that this spin polarization is real, and the results of ongoing experiments may have an important influence on the development of future devices that rely on electron spin.