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Nat Nanotechnol. 2014 May;9(5):343-7. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2014.39. Epub 2014 Mar 23.

The effect of spin transport on spin lifetime in nanoscale systems.

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  • 11] Department of Physics, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA [2].
  • 2Department of Physics, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


Spintronics use the electron spin as a state variable for information processing and storage. This requires manipulation of spin ensembles for data encoding, and spin transport for information transfer. Because of the central importance of lifetime for understanding and controlling spins, mechanisms that determine this lifetime in bulk systems have been extensively studied. However, a clear understanding of few-spin systems remains challenging. Here, we report spatially resolved magnetic resonance studies of electron spin ensembles confined to a 'spin nanowire' formed by nitrogen ion implantation in diamond. We measure the spin lifetime of the ensemble--that is, its spin autocorrelation time--by monitoring the statistical fluctuations of its net moment, which is in thermal equilibrium and has no imposed polarization gradient. We find that the lifetime of the ensemble is dominated by spin transport from the ensemble into the adjacent spin reservoir that is provided by the remainder of the nanowire. This is in striking contrast to conventional spin-lattice relaxation measurements of isolated spin ensembles. Electron spin resonance spectroscopy performed on nanoscale spin ensembles by means of a novel spin manipulation protocol corroborates spin transport in strong field gradients. Our experiments, supported by microscopic Monte Carlo modelling, provide a unique insight into the intrinsic dynamics of pure spin currents needed for nanoscale devices that seek to control spins.

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