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U.K. academics invent form of "spintronic" logic

Posted: 13 Sep 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microelectronics? magnetic domain-wall logic? data storage? memory?

Researchers from Imperial College London, Durham University and the University of Sheffield have developed a technology they have named "magnetic domain-wall logic", which they claim could enable data storage and processing at higher density than conventional microelectronics.

The circuits would demonstrate a similar approach to neurons and axons in the brain, Imperial College said.

The academics are working with undisclosed commercial partners and published a paper in the journal Science.

This latest research has the potential to develop a chip that combines the storage capability of a hard drive with the low cost of memory cards, potentially increasing memory capacity by 200 times from an average of 500Mbyte to around 100Gbyte, Imperial College said. "This technology has the potential to transform mobiles into fully functioning video cameras, in addition to a range of other applications," said lead researcher Russell Cowburn, Professor of Nanotechnology in Imperial's Department of Physics, in a statement issued by Imperial College.

Cowburn and his colleagues are using spintronics technology where electronic functions are based on the spin of electrons, which is responsible for magnetism, rather than the charge that traditional microchips use.

"Traditionally we have used electronics for microchips and magnetism for hard disk drives. This discovery allows us to combine these two approaches to make a new generation of 3D microchips that can store so much more information than a flat two dimensional surface," Cowburn said.

The team is now working with commercial partners to develop the technology and is currently building a demonstrator chip using full microchip manufacturing facilities, the college said.

- Peter Clarke

EE Times

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