Unleashing a New Generation of Non-Volatile Computer Memory
Darrell Schlom, Materials Science and Engineering, in collaboration with Ramamoorthy Ramesh (University of California, Berkeley), is leveraging the competition between spin, charge, orbital, and lattice degrees of freedom in superlattices of perovskite oxides to produce new states of matter that could unleash a new generation of non-volatile computer memory with reduced energy consumption as well as logic and signal processing systems. Materials with these characteristics could enhance the United States Army’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.
The complex interplay of spin, charge, orbital, and lattice degrees of freedom has provided for a plethora of exotic phases and physical phenomena in new materials. Topological states of matter and spin textures have emerged as fascinating results of the electronic band structure and the interplay between spin and spin-orbit coupling.
By better understanding these systems, Schlom’s lab anticipates enabling their electrical control— for example the ability to controllably perturb the size, spin order, and influence the transport of skyrmions (hypothetical particles) through applying an electric field. The Schlom lab is creating model systems with atomic layer precision, using molecular-beam epitaxy and probe via atomic-resolution mapping of structure and local polar distortions. To do this, they’re using scanning-transmission electron microscopy and synchrotron-based x-ray absorption, dichroism, and resonant scattering experiments.