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Dynamics and Intrinsic Variability of Spintronic Devices

Time: Fri 2023-10-13 10.00

Location: Ka-Sal B (Peter Weissglas), Kistagången 16, Kista

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Language: English

Subject area: Information and Communication Technology

Doctoral student: Corrado Carlo Maria Capriata , Elektronik och inbyggda system

Opponent: Associate Professor Dan Kuylenstierna, Microwave Electronics Laboratory, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

Supervisor: Professor B. Gunnar Malm, Elektroteknik; Associate Professor Per-Erik Hellström, Elektronik och inbyggda system

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Spintronics is a scientific domain focusing on utilizing electron spin for information processing. This is the element that distinguishes it from electronics, which only utilizes the charge of electrons. A common purpose of spintronic devices is to implement additional functionalities to state-of-the-art Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The aim of this work was to assess the intrinsic variabilities of Nano-Constriction Spin Hall Nano-Oscillators (NC-SHNOs) and the dynamics of Perpendicular Magnetic Tunnel Junctions (pMTJs). 

The first part of the thesis focuses on NC-SHNO and two-dimensional arrays. They are nanometer-sized microwave oscillators, allowing for a wide frequency tuning range, and are compatible with CMOS Back End Of Line (BEOL). These devices are based on a heavy metal/ferromagnetic bilayer. Environmental conditions during processing, fabrication techniques, and temperature of operation can all create variabilities in the device's functioning. Crystallization grains naturally form during the sputtering of the metals. Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) characterization showed the grains being of different shapes, about 30 nm in size. Here, the aim was to develop a simulation technique based on importing the measured grain structure into micromagnetic simulations. Their results match the device-to-device variability and multi-modal behavior found in microwave measurements. Moreover, the presence of grains influences the synchronization of the arrays.

The second part of this work focuses on pMTJ. These non-volatile memory elements have two metastable states, parallel (P) and antiparallel (AP), separated by an energy barrier Eb. Here, the aim was to show their potential as True Random Number Generators (TRNGs). A pulse-activated measurement set-up was used to realize random bitstreams. The randomness was confirmed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Statistical Testing Suite (NIST-STS). After one whitening Exclusive OR (XOR) stage, all tests were successfully passed.

The assessment was completed with the development of a model describing both macrospin and domain wall-mediated magnetization reversals, i.e. switching between P and AP. The analysis of the reversal dynamics was carried out with micromagnetic simulations and String Method calculations. As expected, Eb is lowered by the field and by decreasing the device size. This allows for faster fluctuations, marking the device as a potential TRNG. Both the switching attempt frequency and the energy barrier were explored by finite-temperature micromagnetic simulations.

This thesis shows the potential of realistic simulations combined with measurements to assess oscillators. It also shows the efficacy of spintronic devices as 10s-MHz TRNG.