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Electric fields manipulate magnetic memory material

  September 29, 2008
Turn electric fields on in the right places in a magnetic semiconductor and you have the makings of a computer memory that could be built into computer processor chips.

The magnetization direction of tiny pieces of the ferromagnetic semiconductor gallium manganese arsenide can be changed by electric fields. Ordinary semiconductor memory devices use electricity to produce magnetic fields that change the magnetization direction of bits of the material.

The electrically-switched memory could lead to new types of computer chips that combine nonvolatile memory and logic processing. Such chips are potentially faster and less power-hungry than today's combination of processor and memory chips.

Research paper:
Magnetization Vector Manipulation by Electric Fields
Nature, September 25, 2008

Researchers' homepage:
Semiconductor Spintronics, Laboratory for Nanoelectronics and Spintronics, Tohoku University

Related stories and briefs:
Memory effect promises better memory chips -- related development

Back to TRN September 29/October 6, 2008

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