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Imec Reports Breakthrough Work that Advances Path for Nanoscale Spin-Wave Majority Gates


LEUVEN, Belgium — Oct.31, 2016 — At the Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, imec, the world-leading research and innovation center in nano-electronics and digital technologies, presented breakthrough results supporting the building of technology-relevant majority gates based on spin waves. Reporting two industry-first achievements that are crucial for ultralow-power beyond-CMOS technology, imec demonstrated the generation and detection of spin waves in sub-micron-sized magnetic waveguides with wavelengths smaller than 350nm traveling over 10 micrometer in a 500nm wide waveguide, and proposed models for majority operation in nanoscale spin-wave structures.

Spintronic majority gate devices are promising alternatives to CMOS technology for certain applications, for example for arithmetic circuits. Majority gates are devices where the state of the output is determined by the majority of the inputs: if for example more than 50 percent of the inputs are true, the output has to return true. The output of the spin-wave majority gate is then based on the interference of multiple spin waves that propagate in a so-called spin-wave bus, or waveguide. When miniaturized down to the nanoscale, spin-wave majority gates could enable arithmetic circuits that are much more compact and energy-efficient than CMOS-based circuits.

Imec, in collaboration with the University of Kaiserslautern and Paris-Sud University, studied spin-wave propagation in a 10nm thick magnetic waveguide. Importantly, they found that spin waves, excited by an RF-driven antenna, can travel more than 10 micrometers in a 500nm wide waveguide. In a second experiment, they developed an all-electrical detection method for characterizing propagating spin waves in a magnetic bus. Spin waves with wavelengths as miniscule as 340nm could be detected—more than two times smaller than previously achieved industry results—paving the way towards scaled spin-wave conduits.

Through micromagnetic simulations, the operation of a nanoscaled fork-like spin-wave majority structure was successfully demonstrated. At these small dimensions, magneto-electric cells are used instead of antennas to excite and detect the spin waves. The proposed detection scheme allowed imec to capture the majority phase result of the spin-wave interference in a very short time frame, which was less than three nanoseconds.

“Spin-wave majority gates with micro-sized dimensions have previously been reported, however, for them to be CMOS-competitive, they must be scaled and handle waves with nanometer-sized wavelengths,” stated Iuliana Radu, distinguished member of technical staff coordinating Beyond CMOS at imec. “We propose here a method to scale these spin-wave devices into nanometer dimensions. Today’s exceptional results will open routes towards building spin-wave majority gates that promise to outperform CMOS-based logic technology in terms of power and area reduction.”

Figure 1 – 2D distribution of spin-waves propagation in a 1µm wide CoFeB conduit recorded using Brillouin light scattering spectroscopy (BLS).

Figure 2 – Fork structure of a majority gate consisting of input and output magneto-electric cells integrated in a spin-wave bus. The picture shows a snapshot at t=0.8ns when inputs are 110.


About imec
Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nano-electronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, and energy.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together close to 3,500 brilliant minds from over 70 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. In 2015, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 415 million euro and of iMinds which is integrated in imec as of September 21, 2016 52 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at

Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited), imec Florida (IMEC USA nanoelectronics design center).

imec : Hanne Degans, Press officer and communications specialist, T: +32 16 28 17 69, Mobile : +32 486 06 51 75,

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