AIST Stories No1
11/36

Leading the way AIST!9stage that is difficult to pass through, known as ‘the valley of death’. This technology managed to get through this stage quite easily. What’s more, because HDDs are a very large market worth three trillion yen per year, of which magnetic heads alone account for 500 billion yen, this success has had a huge impact.”The secret of success is constant consideration of practical applicationAs mentioned at the beginning of this article, as well as an increase in the recording density of HDD magnetic heads, spintronics is expected to enable the development of high-performance second-generation non-volatile memory (STT-MRAM). Consider computers: a computer is in standby mode for most of the time from one key input to the next key input. Therefore, if we install non-volatile working memory that can store data even when the power is turned off, then the power need be turned on only at the moments when keys are being pressed and can be turned off during the standby times.If this “normally-off computer” that does not require standby power can be realized, power savings of up to around 80% can be expected for ordinary personal computers.In 2006, the NEDO Spintronics Non-volatile Devices Project was started by AIST and Toshiba, with the objective of commercializing an STT-MRAM. Combining AIST’s magnesium oxide barrier technology with a perpendicular magnetization system proposed by Toshiba, we developed a “perpendicularly magnetized MTJ”. Using this MTJ for a new writing technology called “spin-transfer torque (STT) writing”*9,10, we raised the efficiency of writing to memory and achieved an increase in capacity to the gigabit level (1 Gbit=109 bits). Shipping of engineering samples will start in 2014 and we think entry into the market is basically only a matter of time.So what does Shinji Yuasa think is the secret of producing such a series of great successes in such a short time?“I am interested in both ideas and needs, and I keep both basic technology and applied technology in mind. Research into ideas that leaves needs unmet is not very effective. However, if you know what is needed, you can specifically describe your goals, you can easily understand the “The field of solid state physics, unlike space research and robotics, lacks the straightforwardness that would make it possible for anyone to keep a simple vision in mind. However, I think that practical application of the results of my work can help other people to hold their own visions.It looks as if the next generation of large-capacity non-volatile memory (STT-MRAM) will come onto the market around 2018. As previous memory technologies are replaced by STT-MRAM, the dream of computers that need little standby power will at last be a reality. Meanwhile, it will be possible for the mobile devices of the future to go without charging for a month. This technology will improve the energy efficiency of electronic devices and contribute to addressing the global environmental and energy use problems.Spintronics can also be applied to a whole range of other applications, such as magnetic sensors, microwave oscillators and “spin dice” (random number generators for encryption), and it may make our lives more pleasant, safer and less damaging to the environment. Using spintronics to build such a future: That is my vision.”*9 Spin-transfer torque(STT): When a current flows in a ferromagnetic material (a ferromagnet), the spins of electrons flow along with the electric charges and “spin angular momentum” is transferred from the electrons to spins in the ferromagnet. “Spin-transfer torque” is the rotary force (torque) that acts on the spins in the ferromagnet.*10 Spin-transfer torque writing: A technology for writing data by using spin-transfer torque acting on storage layers of MTJs and reverse the magnetizations of the storage layers.technology that is required, and it is clear what you need to do.”Even when working on basic research as a university student, Yuasa was always aware of how it related to practical applications. Now, when he finds that something is missing in applied research and the gap cannot be filled from previous studies, he will work on research to rectify the deficiency himself. He hopes to be useful to society by linking fundamental research with practical applications. This simple yet powerful idea is the ground on which this world leader in spintronics research stands.A visionof the futureSpintronicsLeading the way AIST!9stage that is difficult to pass through, known as ‘the valley of death’. This technology managed to get through this stage quite easily. What’s more, because HDDs are a very large market worth three trillion yen per year, of which magnetic heads alone account for 500 billion yen, this success has had a huge impact.”The secret of success is constant consideration of practical applicationAs mentioned at the beginning of this article, as well as an increase in the recording density of HDD magnetic heads, spintronics is expected to enable the development of high-performance second-generation non-volatile memory (STT-MRAM). Consider computers: a computer is in standby mode for most of the time from one key input to the next key input. Therefore, if we install non-volatile working memory that can store data even when the power is turned off, then the power need be turned on only at the moments when keys are being pressed and can be turned off during the standby times.If this “normally-off computer” that does not require standby power can be realized, power savings of up to around 80% can be expected for ordinary personal computers.In 2006, the NEDO Spintronics Non-volatile Devices Project was started by AIST and Toshiba, with the objective of commercializing an STT-MRAM. Combining AIST’s magnesium oxide barrier technology with a perpendicular magnetization system proposed by Toshiba, we developed a “perpendicularly magnetized MTJ”. Using this MTJ for a new writing technology called “spin-transfer torque (STT) writing”*9,10, we raised the efficiency of writing to memory and achieved an increase in capacity to the gigabit level (1 Gbit=109 bits). Shipping of engineering samples will start in 2014 and we think entry into the market is basically only a matter of time.So what does Shinji Yuasa think is the secret of producing such a series of great successes in such a short time?“I am interested in both ideas and needs, and I keep both basic technology and applied technology in mind. Research into ideas that leaves needs unmet is not very effective. However, if you know what is needed, you can specifically describe your goals, you can easily understand the “The field of solid state physics, unlike space research and robotics, lacks the straightforwardness that would make it possible for anyone to keep a simple vision in mind. However, I think that practical application of the results of my work can help other people to hold their own visions.It looks as if the next generation of large-capacity non-volatile memory (STT-MRAM) will come onto the market around 2018. As previous memory technologies are replaced by STT-MRAM, the dream of computers that need little standby power will at last be a reality. Meanwhile, it will be possible for the mobile devices of the future to go without charging for a month. This technology will improve the energy efficiency of electronic devices and contribute to addressing the global environmental and energy use problems.Spintronics can also be applied to a whole range of other applications, such as magnetic sensors, microwave oscillators and “spin dice” (random number generators for encryption), and it may make our lives more pleasant, safer and less damaging to the environment. Using spintronics to build such a future: That is my vision.”*9 Spin-transfer torque(STT): When a current flows in a ferromagnetic material (a ferromagnet), the spins of electrons flow along with the electric charges and “spin angular momentum” is transferred from the electrons to spins in the ferromagnet. “Spin-transfer torque” is the rotary force (torque) that acts on the spins in the ferromagnet.*10 Spin-transfer torque writing: A technology for writing data by using spin-transfer torque acting on storage layers of MTJs and reverse the magnetizations of the storage layers.technology that is required, and it is clear what you need to do.”Even when working on basic research as a university student, Yuasa was always aware of how it related to practical applications. Now, when he finds that something is missing in applied research and the gap cannot be filled from previous studies, he will work on research to rectify the deficiency himself. He hopes to be useful to society by linking fundamental research with practical applications. This simple yet powerful idea is the ground on which this world leader in spintronics research stands.A visionof the futureSpintronics

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