M3d is a FP7 European project aiming at developing advanced magnetic materials suitable for designing a data storage solution in three dimensions (3D).
Conventional planar (2D) devices are expected to reach the limits of scaling within less than a decade, so that long-term massive progress could only be achieved by exploiting the third dimension.
We will develop the materials needed for such 3D memories based on magnetic shift-register devices, namely dense arrays of vertical magnetic wires in a matrix (race-track memory, IBM patent). In this concept series of bits are shifted along each wire, requiring only one read/write element per wire. Synthesis will rely largely on bottom-up routes to minimize production costs. In order to minimize risks, several strategies will be explored both for coding bits, data shifting, read&write schemes.
We address NMP data storage call targets density (5-50Tbit/in2), and reasonable cost per Tbit (2-20€), going beyond the scalability of all-planar devices while remaining competitive in terms of speed and energy consumption (1-10GHz with zero seek time; 10-100 pJ/bit). In all four targets, 3D magnetic memories promise to outperform Hard Disk Drives, providing more storage capacity with less energy consumption.
The project brings together relevant leading academic research groups in Europe. Two SMEs are also partners, one for material development (SmartMembranes, world leader in self-organized anodized products), and the European leader in Magnetic-RAM development, Crocus Technology.
Contact: Olivier FRUCHART, coordinator
The rise of devices using the 3rd dimension, and especially of memories, requires the development of processes to produce architectures in three dimensions. This is the key that is currently enabling flash memories to increase their competitiveness against hard disk drives. As regards the concept of a magnetic domain-wall-based race-track memory, it is required that physical segments are created regularly along the depth of a material, to bound domain walls at specific locations in a digital fashion, to be fault-tolerant.
SmartMembranes GmbH has developped a series of etching processes featuring variations of anodization voltage. Diameters from several tens of nanometers to 150 nm and beyond are achieved while retaining a long range pore ordering; in addition, variations in the pore structure along the length have been demonstrated. Such local protrusions or constrictions can be repeated several times over the typical alumina template thickness of several tens of micrometers. Furthermore, the distance between these diameter modulations can be tuned from a few hundreds of nanometers to several micrometers.
This state-of-the-art development will for sure enable new physics to be investigated, and provides a useful building block for the development of 3D devices, based on magnetic materials and beyond.
The following scanning electron micrographs illustrate the proficiency of SmartMembranes in these fabrication processes:> All news