Research Highlight

Device for making all-magnetic computers

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.167 Published online 26 October 2020

Physicists have devised a novel technique that could be used to design logic circuits, shunning the need for conventional circuits made of silicon-based transistors1.

The technique, the researchers say, is potentially useful for making computing devices that can run on ultralow power.

Logic circuits in current computers require charge transport that generates heat and consumes much power. Electron spin, a property that gives each electron an angular momentum and a tiny magnetic field, has the potential to store data using low power.  

To utilise the electron spin, an international research team, including scientists from the S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences in Kolkata, India, made a device using an ultrathin ferromagnet, an oxide insulator and specific electrodes.

When exposed to an external electric field, virtual nanochannels are formed in the device. The electric field also generate spin waves that occur when each electron spin tilts in sequence and then tips back to vertical. Such waves propagate through the nanochannels that are parallel to each other.

The researchers found that the presence or absence of an electric field could determine the formation of the nanochannels, meaning such channels are completely reconfigurable and reprogrammable. Such a relationship, they say, offers a way to develop an ‘on’ or ‘off’ state for the device.  

The new technique could replace the conventional electronic devices used in current computers, paving the development of all-magnetic computers, says lead researcher Anjan Barman.


References

1. Choudhury, S. et al. Voltage controlled on-demand magnonic nanochannels. Sci. Adv. 6, eaba5457 (2020)