Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Physicists measure current-induced torque in nonvolatile magnetic memory devices


The geometry of a magnetic tunnel junction.
The geometry of a magnetic tunnel junction.

Abstract:
Tomorrow's nonvolatile memory devices -- computer memory that can retain stored information even when not powered -- will profoundly change electronics, and Cornell researchers have discovered a new way of measuring and optimizing their performance.

Physicists measure current-induced torque in nonvolatile magnetic memory devices

Ithaca, NY | Posted on March 9th, 2011

Using a very fast oscilloscope, researchers led by Dan Ralph, the Horace White Professor of Physics, and Robert Buhrman, the J.E. Sweet Professor of Engineering, have figured out how to quantify the strength of current-induced torques used to write information in memory devices called magnetic tunnel junctions. The results were published online Feb. 27 in the journal Nature Physics.

Magnetic tunnel junctions are memory storage devices made of a sandwich of two ferromagnets with a nanometers-thick oxide insulator in between. The electrical resistance of the device is different for parallel and nonparallel orientations of the magnetic electrodes, so that these two states create a nonvolatile memory element that doesn't require electricity for storing information. An example of nonvolatile memory today is flash memory, but that is a silicon-based technology subject to wearing out after repeated writing cycles, unlike magnetic memory.

What has held back magnetic memory technology is that it has required magnetic fields to switch the magnetic states -- that is, to write information. This limits their size and efficiency because magnetic fields are long-ranged and relatively weak, so large currents and thick wires are needed to generate a large-enough field to switch the device.

The Cornell researchers are studying a new generation of magnetic devices that can write information without using magnetic fields. Instead, they use a mechanism called "spin torque," which arises from the idea that electrons have a fundamental spin (like a spinning top). When the electrons interact with the magnets in the tunnel junctions, they transfer some of their angular momentum. This can provide a very strong torque per unit current, and has been demonstrated to be at least 500 times more efficient than using magnetic fields to write magnetic information, Ralph said.

To measure these spin torques, the researchers used an oscilloscope in a shared facility operated by Cornell's Center for Nanoscale Systems. They applied torque to the magnetic tunnel junctions using an alternating current and measured the amplitude of resistance oscillations that resulted. Since the resistance depends on the relative orientation of the two magnets in the tunnel junction, the size of the resistance oscillations could be related directly to the amplitude of the magnetic motion, and hence to the size of the torque.

The researchers hope such experiments will help industry make better nonvolatile memory devices by understanding exactly how to structure them, and also, what materials would best be used as the oxide insulators and the ferromagnets surrounding them.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research, and included collaborators Chen Wang, graduate student and first author; graduate student Yong-Tao Cui; and Jordan A. Katine from Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.

####

For more information, please click here

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


Anne Ju
(607) 255-9735


Chronicle Online
312 College Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14850
607.255.4206

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

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Physics

'Find the Lady' in the quantum world: International team of researchers presents method for quantum-mechanical swapping of positions October 18th, 2017

The secret to improving liquid crystal's mechanical performance: Better lubricating properties of lamellar liquid crystals could stem from changing the mobility of their structural dislocations by adding nanoparticles October 13th, 2017

What can be discovered at the junction of physics and chemistry October 6th, 2017

Energy against the current on a quantum scale, without contradicting the laws of physics: A piece of research in which the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated confirms that merely observing a flow of energy or particles can change its direction October 6th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Spintronics

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Rice U. lab surprised by ultraflat magnets: Researchers create atom-thick alloys with unanticipated magnetic properties October 13th, 2017

A Sea of Spinning Electrons: Rutgers-led discovery could spawn a wave of new electronic devices October 2nd, 2017

Smart multi-layered magnetic material acts as an electric switch: New study reveals characteristic of islands of magnetic metals between vacuum gaps, displaying tunnelling electric current March 1st, 2017

Chip Technology

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Memory Technology

Injecting electrons jolts 2-D structure into new atomic pattern: Berkeley Lab study is first to show potential of energy-efficient next-gen electronic memory October 13th, 2017

First on-chip nanoscale optical quantum memory developed: Smallest-yet optical quantum memory device is a storage medium for optical quantum networks with the potential to be scaled up for commercial use September 11th, 2017

High-speed quantum memory for photons September 9th, 2017

Fast magnetic writing of data September 7th, 2017

Discoveries

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Announcements

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Military

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

On the road to fire-free, lithium-ion batteries made with asphalt October 12th, 2017

A dash of gold improves microlasers: The precious metal provides a 'nano' solution for improving disease detection, defense and cybersecurity applications October 9th, 2017

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