Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Supriyo Bandyopadhyay


The primary obstacle to continued downscaling of charge-based electronic devices in accordance with Moore's law is the excessive energy dissipation that takes place in the device during switching of bits. Unlike charge-based devices, spin-based devices are switched by flipping spins without moving charge in space. Although some energy is still dissipated in flipping spins, it can be considerably less than the energy associated with current flow in charge-based devices. Unfortunately, this advantage will be squandered if the method adopted to switch the spin is so energy-inefficient that the energy dissipated in the switching circuit far exceeds the energy dissipated inside the system. Regrettably, this is often the case, e.g., switching spins with a magnetic field or with spin-transfer-torque mechanism. In this dissertation, it is shown theoretically that the magnetization of two-phase multiferroic single-domain nanomagnets can be switched very energy-efficiently, more so than any device currently extant, leading possibly to new magnetic logic and memory systems which might be an important contributor to Beyond-Moore's-Law technology. A multiferroic composite structure consists of a layer of piezoelectric material in intimate contact with a magnetostrictive layer. When a tiny voltage of few millivolts is applied across the structure, it generates strain in the piezoelectric layer and the strain is transferred to the magnetostrictive nanomagnet. This strain generates magnetostrictive anisotropy in the nanomagnet and thus rotates its direction of magnetization, resulting in magnetization reversal or 'bit-flip'. It is shown after detailed analysis that full 180 degree switching of magnetization can occur in the "symmetric" potential landscape of the magnetostrictive nanomagnet, even in the presence of room-temperature thermal fluctuations, which differs from the general perception on binary switching. With proper choice of materials, the energy dissipated in the bit-flip can be made as low as one attoJoule at room-temperature. Also, sub-nanosecond switching delay can be achieved so that the device is adequately fast for general-purpose computing. The above idea, explored in this dissertation, has the potential to produce an extremely low-power, yet high-density and high-speed, non-volatile magnetic logic and memory system. Such processors would be well suited for embedded applications, e.g., implantable medical devices that could run on energy harvested from the patient's body motion.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

July 2012

Included in

Engineering Commons