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'bending Current' Opens Up the Way For a New Type of Magnetic Memory

A magnetic bit is being switched by bending electrons with the correct spin upwards through the bit.

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology say they have solved the power issue of magnetic random-access memory.

Credit: Arno van den Brink

Magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) is more efficient and robust than other kinds of data storage, but switching bits still requires too much electrical power to make large-scale application practical. Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) researchers say they have solved this problem by using a "bending current," an approach that flips the magnetic bits faster and more efficiently than with conventional methods.

The new method involves sending a current pulse under the bit, which bends the electrons at the correct spin upwards, and so through the bit. "It's a bit like a soccer ball that is kicked with a curve when the right effect is applied," says TU/e researcher Arno van den Brink.

Although the technique is exceptionally fast, it needs something to make the flipping reliable. Early attempts to do this required a magnetic field, but that made the method expensive and inefficient. The TU/e researchers say they solved this problem by applying a special anti-ferromagnetic material on top of the bits, enabling the requisite magnetic field to be frozen, achieving energy efficiency and low cost.

"This could be the decisive nudge in the right direction for superfast MRAM in the near future," van den Brink says.

From Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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