Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Researcher suggests new memory storage mineral

A representation of the mineral kotoite's crystal structure. The oxygen atoms are red, and the magnesium atoms are located at the centers of the green octahedra. The boron atoms are located at the centers of the blue triangles connecting the oxygen atoms. Derek Stewart.
A representation of the mineral kotoite's crystal structure. The oxygen atoms are red, and the magnesium atoms are located at the centers of the green octahedra. The boron atoms are located at the centers of the blue triangles connecting the oxygen atoms. Derek Stewart.

Abstract:
Breakthroughs in electronics often are the result of finding just the right material for a device -- like the tungsten in light bulbs or the silicon in transistors. Now, a Cornell scientist believes that the mineral kotoite could be an ideal insulator for memory storage devices called magnetic tunnel junctions, found in computers, cell phones and magnetic field sensors.

Researcher suggests new memory storage mineral

Ithaca, NY | Posted on January 21st, 2010

The work, building on previous research by other Cornell scientists, is published by Derek Stewart, the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility's computational research associate, in the Dec. 17 online edition of Nano Letters (to appear later in print).

Magnetic tunnel junctions are made of a sandwich of two magnets, typically iron-based, with an oxide in the middle only nanometers thick. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.) Electrons "tunnel" between the two magnets, and the oxide filters information from the electrons' spin states to create what is called nonvolatile memory, which doesn't require electricity to store information. These junctions are also used as very sensitive magnetic sensors or read heads for hard drives, since the device currents depend on the relative orientation of the iron layers' magnetic poles.

Cornell researchers, including Robert Buhrman, the John Edson Sweet Professor of Engineering, and Dan Ralph, the Horace White Professor of Physics, have been on the leading edge of this technology for several years.

In industry today, most magnetic tunnel junctions use aluminum oxide as the insulator. But in labs across the world, magnesium oxide is being tested as a next-generation insulator, because its cubic crystal structure matches well with the metallic leads, allowing more efficient filtering of electrons. John Read, a former graduate student in Buhrman's lab (now a postdoctoral associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology), discovered by accident that the element boron, which he had used at Cornell while fabricating magnetic tunnel junctions to help smooth the material interfaces, was leaking into the insulators and forming a crystal, rather than diffusing away as intended. Yet the devices still worked.

Curious, the team tapped Stewart's computational expertise to work backward and figure out what specific material may have been inadvertently created between the two magnets as a result of the boron contamination.

Density functional calculations brought Stewart to kotoite (Mg3B2O6), a magnesium oxide that also has two boron atoms, which matches well with the magnets' chemistry, allows good electron filtering, and has a slightly different crystal shape than plain magnesium oxide (MgO). He also demonstrated that the mineral's crystal shape -- orthorhombic, as opposed to magnesium oxide's cubic symmetry -- could lead to even better electron spin filtering.

"Derek did a beautiful job of demonstrating that the symmetry arguments that one makes for magnesium oxide can be demonstrated for [kotoite]," Read said.

Calculations were done on the Intel Cluster at CNF, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

####

About Cornell University
Once called "the first American university" by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

Today's Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation's first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Blaine Friedlander
(607) 254-8093


Cornell Chronicle:
Anne Ju
(607) 255-9735

Related Information

Copyright © Cornell University

If 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.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Physics

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Possible Futures

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Memory Technology

New technology of ultrahigh density optical storage researched at Kazan University: The ever-growing demand for storage devices stimulates scientists to find new ways of improving the performance of existing technologies November 30th, 2016

A Tiny Machine: UCSB electrical and computer engineers design an infinitesimal computing device October 28th, 2016

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years: Targeted medicine deliveries and increased energy efficiency are just two of many ways October 26th, 2016

Making the switch, this time with an insulator: Colorado State University physicists, joining the fundamental pursuit of using electron spins to store and manipulate information, have demonstrated a new approach to doing so, which could prove useful in the application of low-powe September 2nd, 2016

Nanoelectronics

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Leti IEDM 2016 Paper Clarifies Correlation between Endurance, Window Margin and Retention in RRAM for First Time: Paper Presented at IEDM 2016 Offers Ways to Reconcile High-cycling Requirements and Instability at High Temperatures in Resistive RAM December 6th, 2016

Physicists decipher electronic properties of materials in work that may change transistors December 6th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI) Volume 6, issue 2 coming out soon! December 5th, 2016

Discoveries

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Announcements

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project