- About Us
- Career Center
- Nano-Social Network
- Nano Consulting
- My Account
|Cartoon illustrates new NIST technique for selectively modifying resistance of a semiconductor device layer. (Top) First layer—in this case a composite of copper and cobalt—and an insulating buffer layer of aluminum oxide is deposited. Buffer is about one nanometer thick. (Middle) Highly charged xenon +44 ions strike the buffer layer, digging nanoscale pits. (Bottom) Top conducting layer of cobalt and copper is deposited. Pits reduce the electrical resistance of the layers and may function as nanoscale GMR sensors embedded in a MTJ sensor.
A new process for adjusting the resistance of semiconductor devices by carpeting a small area of the device with tiny pits, like a yard dug up by demented terriers, may be the key to a new class of magnetic sensors, enabling new, ultra-dense data storage devices. The technique demonstrated by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)* allows engineers to tailor the electrical resistance of individual layers in a device without changing any other part of the processing or design.
The tiny magnetic sensors in modern disk drives are a sandwich of two magnetic layers separated by a thin buffer layer. The layer closest to the disk surface is designed to switch its magnetic polarity quickly in response to the direction of the magnetic "bit" recorded on the disk under it. The sensor works by measuring the electrical resistance across the magnetic layers, which changes depending on whether the two layers have matching polarities.
As manufacturers strive to make disk storage devices smaller and more densely packed with data, the sensors need to shrink as well, but current designs are starting to hit the wall. To meet the size constraints, prototype sensors measure sensor resistance perpendicular to the thin layers, but depending on the buffer material in the sensor, two different types of sensors can be made. Giant magneto-resistance (GMR) sensors use a low-resistance metal buffer layer and are fast, but plagued by very low, difficult to detect, signals. On the other hand, magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) sensors use a relatively high-resistance insulating buffer that delivers a strong signal, but has a slower response time, too slow to keep up with a very high-speed, high-capacity drive.
What's needed, says NIST physicist Josh Pomeroy, is a compromise. "Our approach is to combine these at the nanometer scale. We start out with a magnetic tunnel junction—an insulating buffer—and then, by using highly charged ions, sort of blow out little craters in the buffer layer so that when we grow the rest of the sensor on top, these craters will act like little GMR sensors, while the rest will act like an MTJ sensor." The combined signal of the two effects, the researchers argue, should be superior to either alone.
The NIST team has demonstrated the first step—the controlled pockmarking of an insulating layer in a multi-layer structure to adjust its total resistance. The team uses small numbers of highly charged xenon ions that each have enormous potential energies—and can blast out surface pits without damaging the substrate. With each ion carrying more than 50 thousand electron volts of potential energy, only one impact is needed to create a pit—multiple hits in the same location are not necessary. Controlling the number of ions provides fine control over the number of pits etched, and hence the resistance of the layer—currently demonstrated over a range of three orders of magnitude. NIST researchers now are working to incorporate these modified layers into working magnetic sensors.
The new technique alters only a single step in the fabrication process—an important consideration for future scale-up—and can be applied to any device where it's desirable to fine-tune the resistance of individual layers. NIST has a provisional patent on the work, number 60,905,125.
* J.M. Pomeroy, H. Grube, A.C. Perrella and J.D. Gillaspy. Selectable resistance-area product by dilute highly charged ion irradiation. Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 073506 (2007).
From automated teller machines and atomic clocks to mammograms and semiconductors, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
For more information, please click here
Copyright © NISTIf you have a comment, please Contact us.
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
|Related News Press|
Nanosheet growth technique could revolutionize nanomaterial production February 1st, 2016
New record in nanoelectronics at ultralow temperatures January 28th, 2016
NBC LEARN DEBUTS SIX-PART VIDEO SERIES, “NANOTECHNOLOGY: SUPER SMALL SCIENCE” Produced by NBC Learn in partnership with the National Science Foundation, and narrated by NBC News/MSNBC’s Kate Snow, series highlights leading research in nanotechnology January 25th, 2016
Making sense of metallic glass February 9th, 2016
Nanoparticle therapy that uses LDL and fish oil kills liver cancer cells February 9th, 2016
Leading bugs to the death chamber: A kinder face of cholesterol February 8th, 2016
Superconductivity: Footballs with no resistance - Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications February 9th, 2016
SUNY Poly and GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announce New $500M R&D Program in Albany To Accelerate Next Generation Chip Technology: Arrival of Second Cutting Edge EUV Lithography Tool Launches New Patterning Center That Will Generate Over 100 New High Tech Jobs at SUNY Poly February 9th, 2016
Making sense of metallic glass February 9th, 2016
Silicon-based metamaterials could bring photonic circuits February 1st, 2016
Therapeutic Solutions International Licenses Dexosome Clinical Stage Cancer Immunotherapy Product From Gustave Roussy European Cancer Centre: FDA Cleared Immuno-Oncology Technology to Resume Clinical Development for Solid Tumor Patients January 27th, 2016