/Evaluating mechanical strain in state-of-the-art STT-MRAM

Evaluating mechanical strain in state-of-the-art STT-MRAM

Leuven | More than two weeks ago

What happens if we press it?

Spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory (STT-MRAM) is a promising new type of random-access memory (RAM). Being non-volatile and operating at high speed, it offers potential for instant-on memory with low power consumption. STT-MRAM stacks consist of many nanometer thin layers, which introduce stress and strain in the devices. It has been shown with atomistic simulations that strain could deteriorate device performance [1].


In this master thesis, the student will make use of the nano-indenter to experimentally study the effect of strain in MRAM devices (see Figure 1). He will evaluate the impact indenting devices has on switching, breakdown and the magnetic properties for in-house-built state-of-the-art devices. In order to quantify the indentation, the student will do some modeling work with e.g. comsol multiphysics. This project allows the student to not only learn the physics behind STT-MRAM, but also to evaluate with experiments/modeling what happens if we press it. The student will be closely guided by a team of MRAM experts. The outcome of this project can lead to further development and engineering of stress/strain in spintronics.


Diamond Tip
Figure 1: Schematic of simulation of the stress by the diamond tip of the nano-indenter in the MRAM device


[1] K. Sankaran et al., “Evidence of magnetostrictive effects on STT-MRAM performance by atomistic and spin modeling”, In Proc. IEDM, 2018.


Type of project: Thesis

Required degree: Master of Engineering Technology, Master of Engineering Science

Required background: Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Physics

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Simon Van Beek (Simon.VanBeek@imec.be)