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China researchers speed up MRAM with domain walls

Posted: 01 Sep 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MRAM? electrical switching? perpendicular recording?

MRAM speed can be increased and power consumption reduced by an electrical switching technique that needs less energy to write bits, according to researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

The idea is to switch magnetic domains "halfway" rather than to completely reverse their magnetic orientation, which the researchers say enables MRAMs to store binary bits, but at much faster switching speeds and using a fraction of the energy normally required.

Traditional MRAMs use magnetic fields to switch the state of bit cells, but with poor resulting densities compared to flash. This week, Japanese researchers described how MRAMs could utilize electrical switching to perform perpendicular recording that boosts MRAM densities past flash. The China team claims that electrically switched MRAMs can also be made faster and more energy efficient than today's magnetically switched devices.

The researchers constructed their electrically switched MRAM bit cell using two layers of different ferroelectric films. An electrical signal was shown to be capable of affecting the magnetic polarization of the bit cell by scattering the walls of the striped domain in the bilayered structure. This changed the structure into a single domain that affected the film's resistivity just enough to be detected.

The researchers showed that applying an electrical voltage to their MRAM bit cell allows the presence or absence of domain walls to be used to store information. They are currently optimizing their material stack for commercialization by enhancing the resistivity change induced by the presence or absence of domain walls.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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