Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Data storage: Electrically enhanced recall

11.12.2012
Operating tiny magnetic memories under electrical fields reduces power demand and could enable storage and retrieval of data at much higher speeds than conventional devices

Random-access memory (RAM) is a fast electronic device used in computers to temporarily store data. Traditional RAM is based on the flow of electrical current for data processing. To make RAM faster, more energy efficient and capable of storing more information in a smaller volume, hardware developers are investigating RAM based on magnetic fields. Miniaturization of these devices, however, is hampered by thermal instabilities.

Hao Meng and his co-workers at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute have now shown how electric fields can help to circumvent this instability in tiny magnetic memories, as well as reduce operating power. “This means more information can be stored in a single chip at a cheaper price,” says Meng.

Meng and his team investigated a type of memory that incorporates so-called ‘magnetic tunnel junctions’ (MTJs). Other researchers have previously observed electric-field induced improvements in MTJs, but only in fairly large devices — about 7 micrometers across. Large structures limit the writing speed and suffer from poor compatibility with other electronic components. Meng and his team demonstrated that the concept is also applicable to smaller and faster MTJs that can be integrated more easily.

MTJs are an ideal building block for magnetic memories because of their simplicity and large output signal. In general, they consist of just two magnetic layers separated by a thin insulating barrier. A current passing through the device writes the binary information by controlling the direction of the magnetization in one of the magnetic layers.
This process stores information as either a ‘one’ or a ‘zero’, depending on whether the induced magnetization is parallel or antiparallel to the magnetization of the second magnetic layer. A measurement of the resistance across the intermediate barrier can then read out the information as it is needed.

The researchers are working to make MTJs smaller so that they can squeeze in more information. However, smaller devices require larger current densities to switch the magnetization: this leads to heating and makes them less efficient. As a workaround, Meng and his co-workers applied just 0.2 volts across electrodes attached to each side of a 150-nanometer MTJ made of CoFeB-MgO. This reduced the magnetic field required to switch the magnetization by as much as 30% which, in turn, decreased the writing current density.

“Such devices could improve the data transfer rate; that is, how fast you can copy your files from one device to another,” says Meng.

Journal information

Meng, H., Sbiaa, R., Akhtar, M. A. K., Liu, R. S., Naik, V. B. & Wang, C. C. Electric field effects in low resistance CoFeB-MgO magnetic tunnel junctions with perpendicular anisotropy. Applied Physics Letters 100, 122405 (2012).

A*STAR Research | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.a-star.edu.sg
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>