Energy-efficient computing with tiny magnetic

magnetic vortex

Image: A magnetic vortex known as a skyrmion (gray dot) is moved to the corner of the triangular field by the electric current and bounces off the side. Potentials shown in red are sufficient for Boolean logic operations.
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Credit: ill./©: Klaus Raab, JGU

A large percentage of the energy used today is consumed in the form of electricity for data processing, storage, and operation of associated terminal equipment and devices. It is predicted that the level of energy used for these purposes will continue to increase in the future. Innovative concepts such as neuromorphic computing use energy-saving methods to solve this problem. A joint project of experimental and theoretical physicists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) funded by the ERC Synergy Grant is implementing such a method, called Brownian resource computation. The results were recently published in the journal as an Editors’ Note Devices section of a scientific journal Natural communication.

Brownian calculations use the thermal energy of the environment

Brownian resource calculation is a combination of two unconventional calculation methods. Since computer processes are usually carried out at room temperature, Brownian computation allows for the use of thermal energy from the environment, thereby reducing the use of electricity. The thermal energy used in computing systems is basically the random motion of particles, called Brownian motion; It explains the name of the calculation method.

Reservoir calculations are ideal for processing data with exceptional efficiency

Reservoir computation uses the complex response of a physical system to external stimuli, which provides a very resource-efficient way to process data. Most of the calculations are performed by the system itself, which does not require additional power. Furthermore, since solid-state systems do not need to be configured to specific requirements, this type of pool computer can be easily configured to perform a variety of tasks.

A team led by Professor Mathias Klauey of the Institute of Physics at the University of Mainz and supported by Professor Johan Mentinck of the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands has now created a prototype that combines these two computational methods. This prototype is capable of performing Boolean operations and can be used as a standard test for validation of reservoir calculations.

In this case, the selected solid-state system consists of a metal thin film exhibiting magnetic skyrmions. These magnetic vortices act like particles and are moved by electric currents. The behavior of skyrmions is affected not only by the applied current but also by Brownian motion. This Brownian motion of Skyrmions automatically resets the system after each operation and prepares it for the next calculation, which can significantly increase energy efficiency.

The first prototype was developed in Mainz

Although many theoretical concepts for computing skyrmion-based reservoirs have emerged in recent years, the researchers in Mainz were able to develop the first functional prototype only by combining these concepts with the principles of Brownian computation. “Prototypes are easy to manufacture from a lithographic point of view and can theoretically be scaled down to just nanometers,” said experimental physicist Klaus Raab. Theoretical physicist Maarten Brems emphasizes that “we owe our success to the amazing collaboration between experimental and theoretical physicists at the University of Mainz”. Project coordinator Prof. Matthias Klauey said: “I am delighted that the European Research Council Synergy Grant funding has enabled me to work with the best colleagues at the Department of Theoretical Physics in Nijmegen. We have achieved great results through this collaboration. I have discovered great opportunities for unconventional computing. see, the field receives extensive support from the Carl Zeiss Foundation in Mainz through funding for the Center for Emergent Algorithmic Intelligence.”

Related links: – Kläui Lab, Institute of Physics, JGU; – Statistical Physics and Theory of Soft Materials Group, Institute of Physics, JGU; – top level research unit “TopDyn – Dynamics and Topology” at JGU; – ERC Synergy Grant 3D MAGiC; – Emergent Algorithmic Intelligence Center at JGU

Read more: – Press release “Micro-Hurricane Barriers” (July 4, 2022); – “Efficient readout of antiferromagnetic spintronics” press release (25 November 2021); – Press release “Magnetic vortices in confined space” (March 4, 2021); – Press release “Magnetic vortices crystallize in two dimensions” (September 9, 2020)

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