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  1. We offer a perspective on the prospects of ultrafast spintronics and opto-magnetism as a pathway to high-performance, energy-efficient, and non-volatile embedded memory in digital integrated circuit applications. Conventional spintronic devices, such as spin-transfer-torque magnetic-resistive random-access memory (STT-MRAM) and spin–orbit torque MRAM, are promising due to their non-volatility, energy-efficiency, and high endurance. STT-MRAMs are now entering into the commercial market; however, they are limited in write speed to the nanosecond timescale. Improvement in the write speed of spintronic devices can significantly increase their usefulness as viable alternatives to the existing CMOS-based devices. In this article, we discuss recent studies that advance the field of ultrafast spintronics and opto-magnetism. An optimized ferromagnet–ferrimagnet exchange-coupled magnetic stack, which can serve as the free layer of a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ), can be optically switched in as fast as ∼3 ps. Integration of ultrafast magnetic switching of a similar stack into an MTJ device has enabled electrical readout of the switched state using a relatively larger tunneling magnetoresistance ratio. Purely electronic ultrafast spin–orbit torque induced switching of a ferromagnet has been demonstrated using ∼6 ps long charge current pulses. We conclude our Perspective by discussing some of the challenges that remain to be addressed to accelerate ultrafast spintronics technologies toward practical implementation in high-performance digital information processing systems.

     
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