A new prober at SPINTEC for SOT-MRAM

Spintec has acquired a new 200mm HProbe automatic prober dedicated to the study and characterisation of SOT-MRAM memories. The equipment was funded by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region’s Pack Ambition Recherche 2019 programme, via a research project run jointly by SPINTEC and the start-up Antaios.

A few years ago, SPINTEC discovered a new writing mechanism, the SOT (for Spin Orbit Torque), and developed a new generation of memory, the SOT-MRAM. SOT-MRAM offers largely sub-nanosecond write times and infinite endurance, making it the fastest non-volatile memory currently available, and the ideal candidate for replacing the fastest memories in semiconductor architectures. These characteristics have led to a very strong interest from MRAM companies. Antaios, the start-up behind this project with Spintec, was spun off in Grenoble in 2017 to develop SOT-MRAM technology based on patents filed at Spintec.

Before being deployed in functional applications, SOT-MRAM still requires research and development work. The first objective of all the players in the field, including Antaios, is to achieve “field-free” deterministic writing, which is a prerequisite for the technological integration of SOT-MRAM. The second objective, just as important, is to reduce the write current.

Spintec and Antaios have decided to pool their skills to achieve these objectives. Success will require a combination of expertise in magnetic and non-magnetic materials, in the physics of spintronics phenomena, in integration and in advanced electrical characterisation. It also requires the ability to electrically characterise a large number of SOT-MRAM memory points.

This characterisation requires a specific probe station enabling automatic measurement under a planar or perpendicular magnetic field. Neither Spintec nor Antaios had such equipment. Thanks to the support of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, it was purchased and installed at Spintec, making it accessible to the two partners in this project. The equipment was developed by HProbe, a local company specialising in this sector, around an ACCRETECH UF 200 tester supplied by the Spintec laboratory.

The acquisition of this equipment will thus benefit 3 players in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region: two from the business world and one from academia. For Antaios, the aim is to unlock technological barriers and strengthen its intellectual property, a major asset in a key and highly competitive technological field for France, where most players are currently based in Asia or the United States. The objective for Spintec is to maintain its world leadership in this key technology and to support the development of spintronics activities in the Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes region.

Teams: Spin Orbitronics, MRAM, Instrumentation
Collaboration: Antaios
Funding: Pack Ambition Recherche “Maps” Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Contact: Gilles Gaudin

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