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Memories of the future

Memories of the future

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SPINTRON and its partners have developped a new fabrication
process for magnetic memory.

Hatched” in 2002 in an incubator in Marseilles, Spintron is really taking off. Its goal is to market magnetic memories with undeniable long-term advantages: starting computers in a fraction of a second, accessing data instantaneously (10 ns), increasing the autonomy of mobile phones…

In this field, where patents are registered nearly every day, Spintron (named after electron spin)1 has the firm intention of making its mark by reducing the number of manufacturing steps for “e-MRAM,”2 or magnetic memories. “We can reduce production costs while at the same time increasing industrialization,” states Antoine Filipe, Spintron's Chairman. Spintron will achieve this thanks to a manufacturing process patented by CNRS and the University of Aix-Marseille in 2002, and perfected by Viatcheslav Safarov, researcher at the Condensed Matter and Nanoscience Research Center (CRMCN).3

Professor Safarov succeeded in integrating the ferromagnetic part directly into the silicon's production flow, and to pass from four photolithography steps to just one single step.4 This is quite a revolution compared to the “classic” method of manufacturing magnetic memories, made up of silicon and successive layers of ferromagnetic and insulating material, which is both complicated and costly. The result is that the investment required is reduced tenfold. This is of huge interest to companies, who predict a bright future for magnetic memories. They have a significant advantage: As they are not volatile, they do not require batteries and conserve the data intact even in the event of power failure. They are also far quicker and more robust than hard disk drives, which are also non volatile, but mechanical.

It is not surprising that Spintron, supported by Anvar, and winner of the 5th national competition for business creation aid in 2003, benefited from public support from the Research Ministry and a loan from a general start-up fund. The company has already allocated a budget of e200,000 for the industrial development of “e-MRAM” and will probably spend that same amount again in 2006, at the end of which it should be capable of proposing a finished prototype to the industry. This technology is expected to have an enormous impact, considering the huge scale of the market for magnetic memories, estimated at e10 billion. It is predicted that within five years 80% of the surface of a chip will be memory.

Marine Corniou 


Notes :

1. Property that allows the use of magnetic charges rather than electrical charges to store data.
2. MRAM: Magnetic Random Access Memory.
3. Centre de recherche en matière condensée et nanosciences. Joint lab: CNRS / Universities Aix-Marseille-II & III.
4. Photolithography is the engraving of a thin film of photosensitive resin (on the silicon surface) by exposing it to light radiation.

Contacts :

Antoine Filipe
Spintron, Marseille
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