In 2010, the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) published an assessment of the potential and maturity of selected emerging research on memory technologies. Eight different technologies of non-volatile memories were compared (ferroelectric gate field- effect transistor, nano-electro-mechanical switch, spin-transfer torque random access memories (STTRAM), various types of resistive RAM, in particular redox RAM, nanothermal phase change RAM, electronic effects RAM, macromolecular memories and molecular RAM). In this report, spin-transfer torque MRAM and redox RRAM were identified as two emerging memory technologies recommended for accelerated research and development leading to scaling and commercialization of non-volatile RAM to and beyond the 16 nm generation. Nowadays, there is an intense research and development effort in microelectronics on these two technologies, one based on spintronic phenomena (tunnel magnetoresistance and spin-transfer torque), the other based on migration of vacancies or ions in an insulating matrix driven by oxydo-reduction potentials. Both technologies could be used for standalone or embedded applications.
In this context, it appeared timely to publish a cluster of review articles related to these two technologies. In this cluster, the first two articles introduce the general principles of spin-transfer torque RAM and of thermally assisted RAM. The third presents a broader range of applications for this integrated CMOS/magnetic tunnel junction technology for low-power electronics. The fourth paper presents more advanced research on voltage control of magnetization switching with the aim of dramatically reducing the write energy in MRAM. The last two papers deal with two categories of resistive RAM, one based on the migration of cations, the other one based on nanowires.
We thank all the authors and reviewers for their contribution to this cluster issue. Our special thanks are due to Dr Olivia Roche, Publisher, and Dr Giovanna Lani and Mr Colin Adcock, Publishing Editors of the journal, for their help with this cluster issue.
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