Research Bits: May 7

High-temperature memory; probabilistic bits; switchable MOF.


High-temperature memory

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Air Force Research Laboratory demonstrated memory technology capable of enduring temperatures as high as 600° Celsius for more than 60 hours while retaining stability and reliability. The non-volatile memory device consists of a metal–insulator–metal structure, incorporating nickel and platinum electrodes with a 45 nanometer thick layer of ferroelectric aluminum scandium nitride (AlScN).

“AlScN’s crystal structure also gives it notably more stable and strong bonds between atoms, meaning it’s not just heat-resistant but also pretty durable,” said Dhiren Pradhan, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Pennsylvania, in a release. “But more notably, our memory device design and properties allow for fast switching between electrical states, which is crucial for writing and reading data at high speed.”

Researchers led by Deep Jariwala and Roy Olsson have developed a first-of-its-kind high-temperature-resistant memory device that can reliably store data at temperatures as high as 600° Celsius. (Credit: Eric Sucar/University of Pennsylvania)

Additionally, the memory’s structural configuration makes it compatible with high-temperature silicon carbide logic devices.

“Conventional devices using small silicon transistors have a tough time working in high-temperature environments, a limitation that restricts silicon processors, so, instead, silicon carbide is used,” said Deep Jariwala, an associate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania, in a release. “While silicon carbide technology is great, it is nowhere close to the processing power of silicon processors, so advanced processing and data-heavy computing such as AI can’t really be done in high-temperature or any harsh environments. The stability of our memory device could allow integration of memory and processing more closely together, enhancing speed, complexity, and efficiency of computing. We call this ‘memory-enhanced compute’ and are working with other teams to set the stage for AI in new environments.” [1]

Probabilistic bits with 2D van der Waals magnets

Researchers from the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, University of Texas Austin, Penn State University, Northeastern University, and the National Institute for Materials Science found a method to control magnetic states within ultrathin 2D van der Waals magnets.

The team developed a magnetic tunnel junction that uses the 2D insulating magnet chromium triiodide sandwiched between two layers of graphene. By sending a tunneling current through the sandwich, the direction of the magnet’s orientation of the magnetic domains can be dictated within the individual chromium triiodide layers, according to a statement from Jifa Tian, an assistant professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy. “In our work, we’ve developed what you might think of as a probabilistic bit, which can switch between ‘0’ and ‘1’ (two spin states) based on the tunneling current controlled probabilities. These bits are based on the unique properties of ultrathin 2D magnets and can be linked together in a way that is similar to neurons in the brain to form a new kind of computer, known as a probabilistic computer.”

“This tunneling current not only can control the switching direction between two stable spin states, but also induces and manipulates switching between metastable spin states, called stochastic switching,” said ZhuangEn Fu, a graduate student at UW and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, in the release.

“What makes these new computers potentially revolutionary is their ability to handle tasks that are incredibly challenging for traditional and even quantum computers, such as certain types of complex machine learning tasks and data processing problems,” Tian added. “They are naturally tolerant to errors, simple in design and take up less space, which could lead to more efficient and powerful computing technologies.” [2]

Switchable MOF

Researchers from Monash University, University of Queensland, and Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology demonstrated a Mott insulating phase within an atomically thin metal-organic framework (MOF), and the ability to controllably switch this material from an insulator to a conductor.

They constructed a star-shaped kagome MOF from a combination of copper atoms and 9,10-dicyanoanthracene (DCA) molecules. They grew the material upon another atomically thin insulating material, hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), on an atomically flat copper surface, Cu(111).

By modifying the electron population, the MOF could be switched between Mott insulator and metal phases. The next steps involve reproducing the findings within a device structure in which an electric field is applied uniformly across the whole material. [3]


[1] Pradhan, D.K., Moore, D.C., Kim, G. et al. A scalable ferroelectric non-volatile memory operating at 600 °C. Nat Electron (2024).

[2] Fu, Z., Samarawickrama, P.I., Ackerman, J. et al. Tunneling current-controlled spin states in few-layer van der Waals magnets. Nat Commun 15, 3630 (2024).

[3] Lowe, B., Field, B., Hellerstedt, J. et al. Local gate control of Mott metal-insulator transition in a 2D metal-organic framework. Nat Commun 15, 3559 (2024).

Leave a Reply

(Note: This name will be displayed publicly)