Nav: Home

Magnetoelectric memory cell increases energy efficiency for data storage

May 30, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30, 2017 -- Today's computers provide storage of tremendous quantities of information with extremely large data densities, but writing and retrieving this information expends a lot of energy. More than 99 percent of the consumed power of information storage and processing is wasted in the form of heat, a big headache that still has not abated.

A team of researchers from France and Russia has now developed a magnetoelectric random access memory (MELRAM) cell that has the potential to increase power efficiency, and thereby decrease heat waste, by orders of magnitude for read operations at room temperature. The research could aid production of devices such as instant-on laptops, close-to-zero-consumption flash drives, and data storage centers that require much less air conditioning. The research team reported their findings this week in Applied Physics Letters, by AIP Publishing.

Billions of transistors can now be etched onto single chips in a space the size of a dime, but at some point, increasing this number for even better performance using the same space will not be possible. The sheer density of these nanoscopic transistors translates into more unwanted heat along with quantum-level interactions that must now be addressed.

Over the last several years, research has ramped up to explore the magnetic properties of electrons in a phenomenon called the magnetoelectric effect. This effect, often of interest in the field of research known as spintronics, takes advantage of an electron's spin, instead of its charge. Spins can potentially be manipulated at smaller size scales using far less energy.

Most efforts have focused on reducing the energy of the write operations in magnetic memories, since these operations typically use more energy than read operations. In 2010, the same French and Russian team showed that a combination of magnetoelastic and piezoelectric materials in a magnetoelectric memory cell could allow a 100-fold reduction of the energy needed for the writing process. In the researchers' latest paper, they show that the same magnetoelectric principle also can be used for read operations with extra-low energy consumption.

"We focused on read operations in this paper because the potential for the writing energy to be very low in magnetoelectric systems means that the energy output will now be higher for read operations," said Nicolas Tiercelin, co-author of the paper and a research scientist from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) who is conducting research at the Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology in Lille, France.

The core of the researchers' MELRAM memory cell is based on combining the properties of two types of materials by coupling them mechanically. Magnetic alloys -- one based on a combination of terbium-cobalt and the other based on iron and cobalt -- with thicknesses of a few nanometers are stacked on top of one another. The alloys form a magnetoelastic nanocomposite material whose magnetic spins react to mechanical stress.

These alloys are then placed on a piezoelectric substrate, which consists of relaxor ferroelectrics, exotic materials that change their shape or dimensions when they are exposed to an electric field.

"Together, these materials constitute multiferroic heterostructures in which the control of the magnetic properties is made possible by the application of an electric voltage," Tiercelin said.

"The nanocomposite multilayer provides strong magnetoelectric interaction at room temperature," said Vladimir Preobrazhensky, another co-author of the paper and research director at the Wave Research Center, Prokhorov General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. "This interaction is the basic mechanism for control of magnetic states by the electric field. This feature of the magnetoelectric memory is the origin of its extra-low power consumption."
-end-
This research was carried out within the scope of the International Associated Laboratory on Critical & Supercritical phenomena in Functional Electronics, Acoustics & Fluidics - LIA LICS.

The article, "Magnetoelectric write and read operations in a stress-mediated multiferroic memory cell," is authored by Alexey Klimov, Nicolas Tiercelin, Yannick Dusch, Stefano Giordano, Théo Mathurin, Philippe Pernod, Vladimir Preobrazhensky, Anton Churbanov and Sergei Nikitov. The article will appear in Applied Physics Letters May 30, 2017 [DOI: 10.1063/1.4983717). After that date, it can be accessed at http://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4983717.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See http://apl.aip.org.

American Institute of Physics

Related Energy Articles:

Mandatory building energy audits alone do not overcome barriers to energy efficiency
A pioneering law may be insufficient to incentivize significant energy use reductions in residential and office buildings, a new study finds.
Scientists: Estonia has the most energy efficient new nearly zero energy buildings
A recent study carried out by an international group of building scientists showed that Estonia is among the countries with the most energy efficient buildings in Europe.
Mapping the energy transport mechanism of chalcogenide perovskite for solar energy use
Researchers from Lehigh University have, for the first time, revealed first-hand knowledge about the fundamental energy carrier properties of chalcogenide perovskite CaZrSe3, important for potential solar energy use.
Harvesting energy from walking human body Lightweight smart materials-based energy harvester develop
A research team led by Professor Wei-Hsin Liao from the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has developed a lightweight smart materials-based energy harvester for scavenging energy from human motion, generating inexhaustible and sustainable power supply just from walking.
How much energy do we really need?
Two fundamental goals of humanity are to eradicate poverty and reduce climate change, and it is critical that the world knows whether achieving these goals will involve trade-offs.
New discipline proposed: Macro-energy systems -- the science of the energy transition
In a perspective published in Joule on Aug. 14, a group of researchers led by Stanford University propose a new academic discipline, 'macro-energy systems,' as the science of the energy transition.
How much energy storage costs must fall to reach renewable energy's full potential
The cost of energy storage will be critical in determining how much renewable energy can contribute to the decarbonization of electricity.
Energy from seawater
A new battery made from affordable and durable materials generates energy from places where salt and fresh waters mingle.
Shifts to renewable energy can drive up energy poverty, PSU study finds
Efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and replace oil and coal with renewable energy sources can help reduce carbon emissions but do so at the expense of increased inequality, according to a new Portland State University study
Putting that free energy around you to good use with minuscule energy harvesters
Scientists at Tokyo Tech developed a micro-electromechanical energy harvester that allows for more flexibility in design, which is crucial for future IoT applications.
More Energy News and Energy Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.