Room-temperature quantum magnet toggle switch shows trillions of times per second – ScienceDaily

A class of non-volatile memory devices, called MRAM, based on quantum magnetic materials, can deliver thousands of times the performance that exceeds current state-of-the-art memory devices. Materials known as antiferromagnets have previously been shown to store stable memory states, but they have been difficult to read. This new study paves the way for an efficient way to read memory states, while also being able to do so incredibly quickly.

You can probably blink four times a second. You could say that this blinking frequency is 4 Hz (cycles per second). Imagine trying to blink a billion times per second, or at 1 gigahertz, that would be physically impossible for a human. But this is the current order of magnitude in which contemporary sophisticated digital devices, such as magnetic memory, switch states when performing operations. And many people would like to push the boundaries a thousand times further, to the order of one trillion times per second, or terahertz.

The materials used may be a barrier to achieving faster memory devices. Today’s high-speed MRAM chips, which are not so common as to appear in a home computer, typically use ferromagnetic or ferromagnetic materials. These are read using a technique called tunneling magnetoresistance. This requires that the magnetic components of the ferromagnetic material be lined up in parallel arrangements. However, this arrangement creates a strong magnetic field that limits the speed at which memory can be read or written to.

“We have achieved an experimental breakthrough that bypasses this limitation, thanks to a different type of material and antimagnets,” said Professor Satoru Nakatsuji of the University of Tokyo’s Department of Physics. “Antiferromagnets differ from typical magnets in many ways, but in particular, we can arrange them in ways other than parallel lines. This means that we can nullify the magnetic field that would result from parallel arrangements. Magnetization of ferromagnets is thought to be necessary in order for ferromagnetism to tunnel. to read from memory. Remarkably, however, we found that it is also possible for a special class of antiferromagnets without magnetization, hopefully operating at very high speeds.”

Nakatsugi and his team believe that switching velocities in the terahertz range is achievable, and that this is also possible at room temperature, whereas previous attempts required cooler temperatures and did not yield such promising results. Even so, to improve his idea, the team needs to improve their hardware, and improving the way they make them is key.

“Although the atomic components of our materials are fairly familiar – manganese, magnesium, tin, oxygen, etc. – the way we combine them to form a usable memory component is new and unfamiliar,” said researcher Xianzhe Chen. “We grow crystals in a vacuum, in incredibly fine layers using two processes called molecular beam epitaxy and magnetron sputtering. The higher the vacuum, the higher the purity of the samples. It’s a very difficult procedure and if we improve it, we’ll make our life’s work easier and produce more efficient devices too.”

Antimagnetic memory devices exploit this quantum phenomenon known as entanglement, or distance interaction. But despite that, this research is not directly related to the increasingly popular field of quantum computing. However, the researchers suggest that such developments may be useful or even necessary to build a bridge between the current paradigm of electronic computing and the emerging field of quantum computers.

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