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Weird Magnetic Behavior Could Improve Computer Memory

By Chemical & Engineering News

March 29, 2018

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A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University suggests an unusual magnetic phenomenon could yield efficient, low-power computer memory.

The team's goal is to produce better magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) that can be written using smaller pulses of current, lowering power consumption and extending the life of memory arrays.

The researchers are investigating a different bit-switching mechanism that exploits spin-orbit torque.

The group was working with an experimental device comprised of nanometer-thin layers of a cobalt-iron-boron ferromagnet, a metal oxide, and tungsten, held between two gold electrodes. The researchers could flip the polarization of the magnet by applying current via the electrodes, but only in the presence of a magnetic field.

They added a layer of platinum under the tungsten, expecting it would neutralize the spin-switching effect, but instead they discovered they could flip the polarization of the platinum-frosted device by applying an electrical current, absent a magnetic field.

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