Magnetically Sensitive Transistor - Isis Project No 25 & 813
Modern semiconductor electronics has advanced according to Moore's Law, however new technology will be needed for future performance improvements. Spintronic devices use the spin or magnetic properties of electrons, not their electric charge, to process data. This new generation of advanced electronics promises dramatically improved levels of performance with low power usage.
A modern microprocessor contains more than 125 million individual transistors, so improvements in transistor design have a significant technical and commercial impact. University of Oxford researchers have now developed a new design of "spin-transistor" with exceptional power gain.
One potential application is replacing the giant magnetoresistive stacks that are currently used to read data from hard-disc drives, increasing speed and reliability. Looking further into the future spin transistors will be integral to the next generation of non-volatile magnetic memory, known as MRAM. Spin transistors can also be used as highly sensitive magnetic sensors - for example in the automotive industry as high precision position sensors to enhance engine performance.
The Oxford Invention
The Oxford "Spin Transistor" technology has several important technical advantages:
- Based upon silicon technology, it can be integrated into existing manufacturing processes
- The only spin transistor with a gain approaching unity (up to 1,000 times better than previous designs)
- It is an "active" electronic device with magnetically tunable characteristics, which can be combined with its unique levels of power gain to produce novel electronic devices
Magnetic RAM (MRAM)
MRAM uses "magnetic" charge to store information, promising higher density memory chips that retain information even when power is switched off. Based upon arrays of spin transistors, MRAM will combine processing and storage hence removing the distinction between working memory (RAM) and longer-term storage (hard-disc drives etc).
This work is the subject of a series of patent applications and granted patents, including two granted US patents. Isis would like to talk to companies interested in developing this exciting new technology. Please contact the Isis Project Manager named below to discuss this further.