New "spin-orbit torque" switching technique breaks magnetic memory speed record

EECS Chair Jeffrey Bokor is among an international team of researchers who have published a paper in the journal Nature Electronics that describes a new technique for magnetization switching — the process used to “write” information into magnetic memory — that is nearly 100 times faster than state-of-the-art spintronic devices. The advance could lead to the development of ultrafast magnetic memory for computer chips that would retain data even when there is no power.  In "Spin–orbit torque switching of a ferromagnet with picosecond electrical pulses," researchers report using extremely short, 6-picosecond electrical pulses to switch the magnetization of a thin film in a magnetic device with great energy efficiency. A picosecond is one-trillionth of a second.  The project began at UC Berkeley when Jon Gorchon, now a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) working at the University of Lorraine L’Institut Jean Lamour in France, and Richard Wilson, now assistant professor of both mechanical engineering and materials science & engineering at UC Riverside, were postdoctoral researchers in Bokor’s lab.