New quantum materials promise more energy-efficient computing

December 05, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
Researchers from Intel Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley have reported on a logic device that uses magnetic materials to form logic and memory devices that could be more energy efficient than CMOS.

Reporting in the journal Nature, the researchers have described a magneto-electric spin-orbit (MESO) logic device made using the multiferroic material bismuth-iron-oxide (BiFeO3). A MESO device uses up-and-down magnetic spins in a multiferroic material to store binary information and conduct logic operations.

The bismuth-iron-oxide material is both magnetic and ferroelectric and these properties are linked so that by manipulating the electric field, you can change the magnetic state. The latest refinement is the use of the spin-orbit effect to allow the state of the MESO to be read out efficiently.

Movement of iron atom near the center of bismuth-iron-oxide single crystal lattice determines direction of electric dipole P which is coupled to magnetic spins of atoms (M). Flipping the dipole also flips the magnetic moment. Source: University of California Berkeley.

MESO logic could lower active voltage by a factor of five to about 100mV and energy by a factor of 10 to 30, compared to CMOS. MESO devices will also pack five times more logic operations into the same area as CMOS, the article states.

It is widely expected that as CMOS becomes harder to scale there may be revolutionary jumps to the adoption of alternative technologies in the spintronic or quantum computing domains.

"As CMOS develops into its maturity, we will basically have very powerful technology options that see us through. In some ways, this could continue computing improvements for another whole generation of people," said lead author Sasikanth Manipatruni, in a statement. Manipatruni leads hardware development for the MESO project at Intel's components research group in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Ramamoorthy Ramesh, a UC Berkeley professor of materials science, engineering and physics and a senior author of the paper, first created multiferroic materials in 2001.
Nature article

Related articles:
Intel: Silicon spin qubits hold promise for quantum computing
IEDM: Intel embeds MRAM in FinFET process
IBM shows key step to spintronic transistors
MRAM revolution could trigger new ARM

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