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Researchers working on new technology for memory devices of the future

As conventional memory devices like the hard drives and flash drives, generally made of semiconductor materials reaching limit in terms of their size and storage capacity a new emerging technology- Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM)- holds the promise of cheaper and efficient replacement to existing technologies. 

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad have now studied the effect of a magnetic field on the behavior of an RRAM, to enable remote control of RRAMs, without any physical connections to the device.

RRAM is a type of non-volatile Random Access Memory (RAM) which means the data on the memory device is not wiped out once the power to the device is turned off. Hard drives on a computer, flash drives, and memory cards in a phone are all types of non-volatile memory devices. The RAM on a computer and smartphones, on the other hand, is a volatile memory device, meaning the data on the device gets cleared every time the device is shut down.

RRAMs work is based on a phenomenon called resistive switching, wherein data is stored on the device by switching between a high resistance state (HRS) and a low resistance state (LRS) to store the 0s and 1s, the two components of a binary language which computers use to communicate. The switching between HRS and LRS is controlled using a voltage applied to the device.

In their new study, the researchers studied the effect of a magnetic field on the resistive switching ability of an RRAM made of Silver/ Titanium Dioxide/Fluorine doped Tin oxide (Ag/TiO2/FTO). The study revealed an ability to control the resistance switching on such an RRAM, by varying an applied magnetic field. The researchers have hypothesized that Lorentz force, a force arising due to the presence of electric and magnetic fields may be playing a significant role in switching the resistance states.

Conventional RRAMs achieve resistance switching by varying the voltage applied to the device, which requires a physical connection to the device. Using magnetic fields to alter the resistance states allows a remote switching of the resistance states, without the need for a physical connection. The researchers believe that the present study would be useful in designing RRAM devices that could be operated with a magnetic field, increasing their efficiency.