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Computing with spins and magnets

  • Behtash Behin-Aein (a1), Jian-Ping Wang (a2) and Roland Wiesendanger (a3)

The possible use of spin and magnets in place of charge and capacitors, respectively, to store and process information is well known. Magnetic tunnel junctions are being widely investigated and developed for magnetic random access memories. These are two terminal devices that change their resistance based on switchable magnetization of magnetic materials. They utilize the interaction between electron spin and magnets to read information from the magnets and write onto them. Such advances in memory devices could also translate into a new class of logic devices that offer the advantage of nonvolatile and reconfigurable information processing over transistors. Logic devices having a transistor-like gain and directionality could be used to build integrated circuits without the need for transistor-based amplifiers and clocks at every stage. We review device characteristics and basic logic gates that compute with spins and magnets from the mesoscopic to the atomic scale, as well as materials, integration, and fabrication challenges and methods.

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