As they improve, modern electronics have a way of shrinking. Unfortunately, their power requirements don’t decrease at the same rate. A lot of ongoing research is aimed at reducing the amount of energy required to run electronic devices. With that aim in mind, researchers at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been developing a new type of memory that requires less energy than current technology.
According to the research team, the recently developed magnetoelectric random access memory (MeRAM) is up to 1,000 times more energy efficient than other types of memory, while retaining the high density, read speeds and other characteristics of current generation memory.
UCLA’s team has improved magnet memory by using voltage to write data directly, rather than forcing electrons through wires, which requires more power and also generates heat. MeRAM can also store data with five times greater density, which could lead to savings in the dollar per bit ratio.
“The ability to switch nanoscale magnets using voltages is an exciting and fast-growing area of research in magnetism,” said Pedram Khalili, a research associate in electrical engineering and project manager. “This work presents new insights into questions such as how to control the switching direction using voltage pulses, how to ensure that devices will work without needing external magnetic fields, and how to integrate them into high-density memory arrays.”
The team’s findings were presented in a research paper titled “Voltage-Induced Switching of Nanoscale Magnetic Tunnel Junctions” at the 2012 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco. Along with UCLA, the project was funded by DARPA, UC Irvine, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, and Singulus Technologies.
Below you’ll find an interesting take on how RAM works.