New candidate technology for lower power, faster memories

August 15, 2013 // By Paul Buckley
Researchers in Israel have developed a simple magnetisation technique which may lead to a new generation of faster, smaller, less expensive and lower power consumption memory technologies.

The search for a memory technology that combines the best characteristics of exisitng techniques continues. Current memory devices have drawbacks: dynamic RAM memory has to be refreshed periodically, static RAM data is lost when the power is off, flash memory lacks speed, and all existing memory technologies are challenged when it comes to miniaturisation.
Israeli reseraachers have described a simple magnetisation technique that eliminates the need for permanent magnets in magnetic memory devices.

Published in Nature Communications , the research paper, A chiral-based magnetic memory device without a permanent magnet , was written by Prof. Yossi Paltiel, Oren Ben Dor and Shira Yochelis at the Department of Applied Physics, Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Shinto P. Mathew and Ron Naaman at the Department of Chemical Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science.

The research deals with the flow properties of electron charge carriers in memory devices. According to quantum mechanics, in addition to their electrical charge, electrons also have a degree of internal freedom called spin, which gives them their magnetic properties. The new technique, called magnetless spin memory (MSM), drives a current through chiral material and selectively transfers electrons to magnetise nano magnetic layers or nano particles. With this technique, the researchers showed it is possible to create a magnetic-based memory device that does not require a permanent magnet, and which could allow for the miniaturisation of memory bits down to a single nanoparticle.

The potential benefits of magnetless spin memory are numerous. The technology has the potential to overcome the limitations of other magnetic-based memory technologies, and could make it possible to create inexpensive, high-density universal memory-on-chip devices that require much less power than existing technologies. Compatible with integrated circuit manufacturing techniques, it could allow for inexpensive, high density universal memory-on-chip production.

According to the Hebrew University's Prof. Paltiel, “Now that proof-of-concept devices have been designed and tested, magnetless spin memory