University of California, Berkeley, researchers have discovered a new way to switch the polarization of nanomagnets, paving the way for high-density storage to move from hard disks onto integrated circuits.
The advance, to be reported Monday, Aug. 3, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to computers that turn on in an instant and operate with far greater speed and significantly less power.
A research team led by Sayeef Salahuddin, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has found that a slight tilt of the magnets makes them easy to switch without an external magnetic field. This opens the door to a memory system that can be packed onto a microprocessor, a major step toward the goal of reducing energy dissipation in modern electronics.
"To reduce the power draw and increase the speed, we want to be able to manufacture a computer chip that includes memory so that it is close to the computational action," said Salahuddin. "However, the physics needed to create long-term storage are not compatible with integrated circuits."
Creating and switching polarity in magnets without an external magnetic field has been a key focus in the field of spintronics. Generating a magnetic field takes power and space, which is why magnets have not yet been integrated onto computer chips.
Instead, there are separate systems for long-term magnetic memory. These include a computer's hard disk drive where data are stored, and the various kinds of random-access memory, or RAM, on the integrated circuits of the central processing unit, or CPU, where calculations and logic operations are performed.
A large portion of the energy used in computing is spent on transferring data from one type of memory to another. Doing that quickly takes more energy and generates more heat.
In past research, Salahuddin and his colleagues found that directing electrical current through the rare metal tantalum creates polarity in magnets without an external magnetic field. But the battle wasn't over.
Packing a sufficient number of nanomagnets onto a chip meant aligning them perpendicularly, but that vertical orientation negated the switching effects of tantalum.
"We found that by tilting the magnet - just 2 degrees was enough - you get all the benefits of a high-density magnetic switch without the need for an external magnetic field," said Salahuddin.
The study's lead author is Long You, a research scholar in Salahuddin's lab.
The Department of Energy, National Science Foundation Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science, and the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network's Function Accelerated nanoMaterial Engineering Center (STARNET FAME) helped support this research.
Sarah Yang | EurekAlert!
Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Life Sciences