Researchers break magnetic memory speed record

Spintronic devices are attractive alternatives to conventional computer chips, providing digital information storage that is highly energy efficient and also relatively easy to manufacture on a large scale. However, these devices, which rely on magnetic memory, are still hindered by their relatively slow speeds, compared to conventional electronic chips. A key feature of magnetic memory is that the data is "non-volatile," which means that information is retained even when there is no electrical power applied.The potential of magnetic devices for integration with electronics is being explored in the field of spintronics, in which tiny magnetic devices are controlled by conventional electronic circuits, all on the same chip.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Electronics, an international team of researchers has reported a new technique for magnetization switching—the process used to "write" information into magnetic memory—that is nearly 100 times faster than state-of-the-art spintronic devices. The advance could lead to the development of ultrafast magnetic memory for computer chips that would retain data even when there is no power.

In the study, the researchers report using extremely short, 6-picosecond electrical pulses to switch the magnetization of a thin film in a magnetic device with great energy efficiency. A picosecond is one-trillionth of a second. In conventional computer chips, the 0s and 1s of binary data are stored as the "on" or "off" states of individual silicon transistors. In magnetic memory, this same information can be stored as the opposite polarities of magnetization, which are usually thought of as the "up" or "down" states. This magnetic memory is the basis for magnetic hard drive memory, the technology used to store the vast amounts of data in the cloud.

The research was led by Jon Gorchon, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) working at the University of Lorraine L'Institut Jean Lamour in France, in collaboration with Jeffrey Bokor, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and Richard Wilson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of materials science and engineering at UC Riverside. The project began at UC Berkeley when Gorchon and Wilson were postdoctoral researchers in Bokor's lab.

Read: https://techxplore.com/news/2020-10-magnetic-memory.html

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