Unlocking The Potential Of Spintronics

Researchers in Japan have developed a thin film made of gallium manganese arsenide that can be reversibly magnetized, with implications for computational logic and memory.

AsianScientist (Jun. 19, 2019) – In a study published in Nature Communications, a team of scientists in Japan has created a spintronic device that could be used in future generations of computational logic and memory devices.

In a nutshell, spintronics explores the possibility of high-performance, low-power components for logic and memory. It is based on the idea of encoding information into the spin of an electron instead of using packets of electrons to represent logical bits, 0s and 1s.

Crucial to unlocking the potential of spintronics is the ability to quickly and efficiently magnetize materials. Hence, researchers led by Professor Masaaki Tanaka at the University of Tokyo, Japan, created a thin film of ferromagnetic material that can be reversibly magnetized with the application of very small current densities—one and two orders of magnitude smaller than current densities required by previous techniques.

“We are trying to solve the problem of the large power consumption required for magnetization reversal in magnetic memory devices,” said Tanaka. “Our ferromagnetic semiconductor material—gallium manganese arsenide (GaMnAs)—is ideal for this task as it is a high-quality single crystal. Less ordered films have an undesirable tendency to flip electron spins. This is akin to resistance in electronic materials and it’s the kind of inefficiency we try to reduce.”

The researchers also noted that their GaMnAs film is especially thin due to a fabrication process known as molecular beam epitaxy.

“We did not expect that the magnetization can be reversed in this material with such a low current density; we were very surprised when we found this phenomenon,” said Tanaka. “Our study will promote research on material development for more efficient magnetization reversal. This in turn will help researchers realize promising developments in spintronics.”

The article can be found at: Jiang et al. (2019) Efficient Full Spin–orbit Torque Switching in a Single Layer of a Perpendicularly Magnetized Single-crystalline Ferromagnet.


Source: University of Tokyo; Photo: Tanaka-Ohya Laboratory/University of Tokyo.
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