Japanese Scientists Discovers a Method to Make MRAM Faster and Energy Efficient

Submitted by lalit on September 27, 2008 - 7:31pm.

The two future RAM technologies that the scientists have been working on are STT-RAM and MRAM. Spin torque transfer RAM (STT-RAM) has advantages of lower power consumption and better scalability over the Magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM). The main reason behind high power requirement of MRAM is that it uses electromagnet as the middleman to flip domains. Domains are the tiny regions inside magnetic materials that behave like individual magnets and can have their north-south orientation flipped to store information.
Scientists in Japan have developed a new method that can be used to manipulate domains in a semiconductor without using magnets. They simple use an electric field, generated by applying voltage to a nearby electrode, to shift magnetic domains. This process removes the need of electromagnet and will make the MRAM more energy efficient and faster. The scientists used an iron-based semiconductor, in which there are two kinds of charge carrier – electrons, and the voids – “holes” that can accommodate them. Applying an electric field to material via a nearby electrode can change the density of both voids and electrons.
To record data the domains have to flip by 180 degrees, but the Japanese were able to move it just by 10 degrees. Hideo Ohno, leader of Tohoku team that developed the method, said they have started working on tweaking the chemistry of the material used, to make it rotate 180 degrees. The scientists say that once this is achieved MRAM will require less power, be more compact and faster than STT_RAM.
[Via New Scientist]