I've just returned from the Spintech IV meeting in lovely Maui. I gave a short overview of the history of spintronics there. The focus of my talk asked "what are historically interesting questions about spintronics?" To this, I answered myself by citing four: What are the historical roots of spintronics? What sources of patronage have helped spintronics grow? How was spintronics used to help create political support for the NNI? And, last, how does the history of spintronics fit into the overall history of the microelectronics industry and Silicon Valley?
A few things caught my attention. One was the seeming hostility of the scientists there - mostly physicists - toward nanotechnology. I asked the group of about 200 people (students as well as senior faculty) how many considered the work they are doing to be "nanotechnology." Only a few raised their hands and these folks were mostly students. One senior researcher from UCLA even made a point of coming up to me after my talk and telling me that nano was a "hoax" which had been "hijacked" by other disciplines, especially chemistry. Another person felt obliged to comment - which simply echoed a point that I had made throughout my talk (weren't you listening??) - on the idea that much about nano wasn't new and that it was largely a re-branding phenomenon.
So...is spintronics nanotechnology?