Charge carriers (such as electrons) have a property known as spin which is a small quantity of angular momentum intrinsic to the carrier. An electric current is generally unpolarized (consisting of 50% spin-up and 50% spin-down electrons); a spin polarized current is one with more electrons of either spin. By passing a current through a thick magnetic layer (usually called the “fixed layer”), one can produce a spin-polarized current. If this spin-polarized current is directed into a second, thinner magnetic layer (the “free layer”), angular momentum can be transferred to this layer, changing its orientation. This can be used to excite oscillations or even flip the orientation of the magnet. The effects are usually only seen in nanometer scale devices.
Spin-transfer torque memory
Spin-transfer torque can be used to flip the active elements in magnetic random-access memory. Spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory (STT-RAM or STT-MRAM) has the advantages of lower power consumption and better scalability over conventional magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) which uses magnetic fields to flip the active elements. Spin-transfer torque technology has the potential to make possible MRAM devices combining low current requirements and reduced cost; however, the amount of current needed to reorient the magnetization is at present too high for most commercial applications, and the reduction of this current density alone is the basis for current academic research in spin electronics.
Hitachi and Tohoku University demonstrated a 32-Mbit STT-RAM in June 2009.
On August 1, 2011, Grandis announced that it had been purchased by Samsung Electronics for an undisclosed sum.
In May 2011, Russian Nanotechnology Corp. announced an investment of $300 million in Crocus Nano Electronics (a joint venture with Crocus Technology) which will build an MRAM factory in Moscow, Russia.
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- Kim, J.P.; Qualcomm Inc., San Diego, CA, USA; Taehyun Kim; Wuyang Hao; Rao, H.M.; Kangho Lee; Xiaochun Zhu; Xia Li; Wah Hsu; Kang, S.H.; Matt, N.; Yu, N. (15–17 June 2011). A 45nm 1Mb embedded STT-MRAM with design techniques to minimize read-disturbance. 2011 Symposium on VLSI Circuits (VLSIC),. ieeexplore.ieee.org. IEEE. ISBN 978-1-61284-175-5. ISSN 2158-5601.
- "Everspin ships first ST-MRAM memory with 500X performance of flash". Computerworld. 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
- "Crocus press release describing MRAM new prototype". crocus-technology.com. Crocus. 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012.
- "Interview with Vincent Chun from Spin Transfer Technologies". Mram-info.com. Retrieved 2014-02-07.