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Creators/Authors contains: "Khalili Amiri, Pedram"

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  1. Abstract

    Probabilistic (p-) computing is a physics-based approach to addressing computational problems which are difficult to solve by conventional von Neumann computers. A key requirement for p-computing is the realization of fast, compact, and energy-efficient probabilistic bits. Stochastic magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) with low energy barriers, where the relative dwell time in each state is controlled by current, have been proposed as a candidate to implement p-bits. This approach presents challenges due to the need for precise control of a small energy barrier across large numbers of MTJs, and due to the need for an analog control signal. Here we demonstrate an alternative p-bit design based on perpendicular MTJs that uses the voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA) effect to create the random state of a p-bit on demand. The MTJs are stable (i.e. have large energy barriers) in the absence of voltage, and VCMA-induced dynamics are used to generate random numbers in less than 10 ns/bit. We then show a compact method of implementing p-bits by using VC-MTJs without a bias current. As a demonstration of the feasibility of the proposed p-bits and high quality of the generated random numbers, we solve up to 40 bit integer factorization problems using experimental bit-streams generated by VC-MTJs. Our proposal can impact the development of p-computers, both by supporting a fully spintronic implementation of a p-bit, and alternatively, by enabling true random number generation at low cost for ultralow-power and compact p-computers implemented in complementary metal-oxide semiconductor chips.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 25, 2024
  2. Abstract

    This article discusses the current state of development, open research opportunities, and application perspectives of electric‐field‐controlled magnetic tunnel junctions that use the voltage‐controlled magnetic anisotropy effect to control their magnetization. The integration of embedded magnetic random‐access memory (MRAM) into mainstream semiconductor foundry manufacturing opens new possibilities for the development of energy‐efficient, high‐performance, and intelligent computing systems. The current generation of MRAM, which uses the current‐controlled spin‐transfer torque (STT) effect to write information, has gained traction due to its nonvolatile data retention and lower integration cost compared to embedded Flash. However, scaling MRAM to high bit densities will likely require a transition from current‐controlled to voltage‐controlled operation. In this perspective, an overview of voltage‐controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA) as a promising beyond‐STT write mechanism for MRAM devices is provided and recent advancements in developing VCMA‐MRAM devices with perpendicular magnetization are highlighted. Starting from the fundamental mechanisms, the key remaining challenges of VCMA‐MRAM, such as increasing the VCMA coefficient, controlling the write error rate, and achieving field‐free VCMA switching are discussed. Then potential solutions are discussed and open research questions are highlighted. Lastly, prospective applications of voltage‐controlled magnetic tunnel junctions (VC‐MTJs) in security applications, extending beyond their traditional role as memory devices are explored.

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  3. The emergence of embedded magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) and its integration in mainstream semiconductor manufacturing technology have created an unprecedented opportunity for engineering computing systems with improved performance, energy efficiency, lower cost, and unconventional computing capabilities. While the initial interest in the existing generation of MRAM—which is based on the spin-transfer torque (STT) effect in ferromagnetic tunnel junctions—was driven by its nonvolatile data retention and lower cost of integration compared to embedded Flash (eFlash), the focus of MRAM research and development efforts is increasingly shifting toward alternative write mechanisms (beyond STT) and new materials (beyond ferromagnets) in recent years. This has been driven by the need for better speed vs density and speed vs endurance trade-offs to make MRAM applicable to a wider range of memory markets, as well as to utilize the potential of MRAM in various unconventional computing architectures that utilize the physics of nanoscale magnets. In this Perspective, we offer an overview of spin–orbit torque (SOT) as one of these beyond-STT write mechanisms for the MRAM devices. We discuss, specifically, the progress in developing SOT-MRAM devices with perpendicular magnetization. Starting from basic symmetry considerations, we discuss the requirement for an in-plane bias magnetic field which has hindered progress in developing practical SOT-MRAM devices. We then discuss several approaches based on structural, magnetic, and chiral symmetry-breaking that have been explored to overcome this limitation and realize bias-field-free SOT-MRAM devices with perpendicular magnetization. We also review the corresponding material- and device-level challenges in each case. We then present a perspective of the potential of these devices for computing and security applications beyond their use in the conventional memory hierarchy. 
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  4. Abstract Magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) based on voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy in magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) is a promising candidate for high-performance computing applications, due to its lower power consumption, higher bit density, and the ability to reduce the access transistor size when compared to conventional current-controlled spin-transfer torque MRAM. The key to realizing these advantages is to have a low MTJ switching voltage. Here, we report a perpendicular MTJ structure with a high voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy coefficient ~130 fJ/Vm and high tunnel magnetoresistance exceeding 150%. Owing to the high voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy coefficient, we demonstrate sub-nanosecond precessional switching of nanoscale MTJs with diameters of 50 and 70 nm, using a voltage lower than 1 V. We also show scaling of this switching mechanism down to 30 nm MTJs, with voltages close to 2 V. The results pave the path for the future development and application of voltage-controlled MRAMs and spintronic devices in emerging computing systems. 
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  5. Abstract

    With the fast growth of the number of electronic devices on the internet of things (IoT), hardware‐based security primitives such as physically unclonable functions (PUFs) have emerged to overcome the shortcomings of conventional software‐based cryptographic technology. Existing PUFs exploit manufacturing process variations in a semiconductor foundry technology. This results in a static challenge–response behavior, which can present a long‐term security risk. This study shows a reconfigurable PUF based on nanoscale magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) arrays that uses stochastic dynamics induced by voltage‐controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA) for true random bit generation. A total of 100 PUF instances are implemented using 10 ns voltage pulses on a single chip with a 10 × 10 MTJ array. The unipolar nature of the VCMA mechanism is exploited to stabilize the MTJ state and eliminate bit errors during readout. All PUF instances show entropy close to one, inter‐Hamming distance close to 50%, and no bit errors in 104repeated readout measurements.

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  6. Abstract There is accelerating interest in developing memory devices using antiferromagnetic (AFM) materials, motivated by the possibility for electrically controlling AFM order via spin-orbit torques, and its read-out via magnetoresistive effects. Recent studies have shown, however, that high current densities create non-magnetic contributions to resistive switching signals in AFM/heavy metal (AFM/HM) bilayers, complicating their interpretation. Here we introduce an experimental protocol to unambiguously distinguish current-induced magnetic and nonmagnetic switching signals in AFM/HM structures, and demonstrate it in IrMn 3 /Pt devices. A six-terminal double-cross device is constructed, with an IrMn 3 pillar placed on one cross. The differential voltage is measured between the two crosses with and without IrMn 3 after each switching attempt. For a wide range of current densities, reversible switching is observed only when write currents pass through the cross with the IrMn 3 pillar, eliminating any possibility of non-magnetic switching artifacts. Micromagnetic simulations support our findings, indicating a complex domain-mediated switching process. 
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  7. Abstract

    Tetherless sensors have long been positioned to enable next generation applications in biomedical, environmental, and industrial sectors. The main challenge in enabling these advancements is the realization of a device that is compact, robust over time, and highly efficient. This paper presents a tetherless optical tag which utilizes optical energy harvesting to realize scalable self-powered devices. Unlike previous demonstrations of optically coupled sensor nodes, the device presented here amplifies signals and encodes data on the same optical beam that provides its power. This optical interrogation modality results in a highly efficient data link. These optical tags support data rates up to 10 Mb/s with an energy consumption of ~ 3 pJ/bit. As a proof-of-concept application, the optical tag is combined with a spintronic microwave detector based on a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ). We used this hybrid opto-spintronic system to perform self-powered transduction of RF waves at 1 GHz to optical frequencies at ~ 200 THz, while carrying an audio signal across (see Supplementary Data for audio files).

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  8. Abstract

    Current-induced spin-orbit torques (SOTs) are of interest for fast and energy-efficient manipulation of magnetic order in spintronic devices. To be deterministic, however, switching of perpendicularly magnetized materials by SOT requires a mechanism for in-plane symmetry breaking. Existing methods to do so involve the application of an in-plane bias magnetic field, or incorporation of in-plane structural asymmetry in the device, both of which can be difficult to implement in practical applications. Here, we report bias-field-free SOT switching in a single perpendicular CoTb layer with an engineered vertical composition gradient. The vertical structural inversion asymmetry induces strong intrinsic SOTs and a gradient-driven Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction (g-DMI), which breaks the in-plane symmetry during the switching process. Micromagnetic simulations are in agreement with experimental results, and elucidate the role of g-DMI in the deterministic switching processes. This bias-field-free switching scheme for perpendicular ferrimagnets with g-DMI provides a strategy for efficient and compact SOT device design.

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