Description: The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed and demonstrated a new topology for reducing the size of spintronic devices. Currently, spin valves and Magnetic Tunnel Junctions (MTJ) use a planar “sandwich” geometry where a nonmagnetic thin film is sandwiched between thin films of ferromagnetic materials. The footprint of these devices is determined by the length and width of the sandwich which are on the order of 100nm. To achieve high density performance, spintronic devices must reach the nanometer scale. The NRL Vertical Cell Edge Junction Magnetoelectronic Device Family turns the sandwich on its side and employs a new operational geometry in which electrical contact is made at a film edge. The device operation is based on the novel concept that the magnetization at the edge of a patterned ferromagnetic thin film element remains substantially parallel to the average magnetization of the element. This enables a near order of magnitude reduction of the device footprint. In hard disk drive (HDD) applications the reduced footprint reduces the read/write head size allowing increased data storage density. This also increases the data storage density in Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) arrays. Additionally, in the spin valve embodiment, the device impedance is much smaller than an MTJ allowing improved impedance matching for the circuit.

Advantages/Features Include:

  • Write procedure in MRAM uses scalable process of domain wall switching.
  • Reduced dimensions: a non-planar geometry where one dimension of the device area is given by a film thickness, much smaller than dimensions determined by lithographic resolution.
  • For CPP spin valve: the device impedance is tens of Ohms promoting excellent impedance matching to on-chip circuitry.

Applications Include:

  • Read-back sensor in a read-write head of a hard disk drive.
  • Storage cell in high performance, rad-hard integrated MRAM.

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