Author ORCID Identifier
Doctor of Philosophy
Electrical & Computer Engineering
Nanomagnetic devices have been projected as an alternative to transistor-based switching devices due to their non-volatility and potentially superior energy-efficiency. The energy efficiency is enhanced by the use of straintronics which involves the application of a voltage to a piezoelectric layer to generate a strain which is ultimately transferred to an elastically coupled magnetostrictive nanomaget, causing magnetization rotation. The low energy dissipation and non-volatility characteristics make straintronic nanomagnets very attractive for both Boolean and non-Boolean computing applications. There was relatively little research on straintronic switching in devices built with real nanomagnets that invariably have defects and imperfections, or their adaptation to non-Boolean computing, both of which have been studied in this work. Detailed studies of the effects of nanomagnet material fabrication defects and surface roughness variation (found in real nanomagnets) on the switching process and ultimately device performance of those switches have been performed theoretically. The results of these studies place the viability of straintronics logic (Boolean) and/or memory in question.
With a view to analog computing and signal processing, analog spin wave based device operation has been evaluated in the presence of defects and it was found that defects impact their performance, which can be a major concern for the spin wave based device community. Additionally, the design challenge for low barrier nanomagnet which is the building block of binary stochastic neurons based probabilistic computing device in case of real nanomagnets has also been investigated. This study also cast some doubt on the efficacy of probabilistic computing devices. Fortunately, there are some non-Boolean applications based on the collective action of array of nanomagnets which are very forgiving of material defects. One example is image processing using dipole coupled nanomagnets which is studied here and it showed promising result for noise correction and edge enhancement of corrupted pixels in an image. Moreover, a single magneto tunnel junction based microwave oscillator was proposed for the first time and theoretical simulations showed that it is capable of better performance compared to traditional microwave oscillators.
The experimental part of this work dealt with spin wave modes excited by surface acoustic waves, studied with time resolved magneto optic Kerr effect (TR-MOKE). New hybrid spin wave modes were observed for the first time. An experiment was carried out to emulate simulated annealing in a system of dipole coupled magnetostrictive nanomagnets where strain served as the simulated annealing agent. This was a promising outcome and it is the first demonstration of the hardware variant of simulated annealing of a many body system based on magnetostrictive nanomagnets. Finally, a giant spin Hall effect actuated surface acoustic wave antenna was demonstrated experimentally. This is the first observation of photon to phonon conversion using spin-orbit torque and although the observed conversion efficiency was poor (1%), it opened the pathway for a new acoustic radiator. These studies complement past work done in the area of straintronics.
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