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John O | May 2019

New, more efficient method discovered for controlling magnetic circuits without electric currents

By Josh Perry, Editor


Researchers from the New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering in New York City discovered a new voltage-controlled topological spin switch (vTOPSS) that uses only an electrical field, not an electrical current, to switch between Boolean logic states.


NYU researchers discovered a more efficient means for storing information.
(Wikimedia Commons)


By avoiding electrical currents, according to a report from NYU, the researchers significantly reduced the heat generated and the energy used, which makes this a potentially more efficient method for storing and manipulating information than common silicon transistors.


The scientists used a magnetic insulator and a topological insulator, which is insulating on the interior but allows the flow of electrons along its surface. The resulting device was slower than silicon transistors, the article explained, but added functionality and flexibility in circuit designs because of its integrated logic and non-volatile memory.


“Because vTOPPS will reduce reliance on cloud memory, it also holds the potential for making computing safer, as hackers will have greater difficulty gaining access to a system’s hardware,” the article added. “Next steps will include further optimization at the materials and design level to improve the switching speed, as well as developing prototypes.”


The research was recently published in Physical Review Applied. The abstract read:


“A voltage-controlled topological spin switch (VTOPSS) that uses a hybrid topological insulator–magnetic insulator multiferroic material is presented that can implement Boolean logic operations with sub-10-aJ energy per bit and an energy-delay product on the order of 10−26 J s. The device uses a topological insulator, which has the highest efficiency of conversion of the electric field to spin torque yet observed at room temperature, and a low-moment magnetic insulator that can respond rapidly to a given spin torque.


“We present the theory of operation of the VTOPSS, develop analytic models of its performance metrics, elucidate performance scaling with dimensions and voltage, and benchmark the VTOPSS against existing spin-based and CMOS devices. Compared with existing spin-based devices, such as all-spin logic and charge-spin logic devices, the VTOPSS offers 10–70 times lower energy dissipation and 70–1700 times lower energy-delay product.


“With experimental advances and improved material properties, we show that the energy and energy-delay product of the VTOPSS can be lowered to a few attojoules per bit and 10−28 J s, respectively. As such, the VTOPSS technology offers competitive metrics compared with existing CMOS technology.


“Finally, we establish that interconnect issues that dominate the performance in CMOS logic are relatively less significant for the VTOPSS, implying that highly resistive materials can indeed be used to interconnect VTOPSS devices.”

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