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IEEE ELECTRON DEVICE LETTERS, VOL. 31, NO. 1, JANUARY 2010

**Spintronic Memristor Temperature Sensor
**

Xiaobin Wang, Member, IEEE, Yiran Chen, Member, IEEE, Ying Gu, and Hai Li, Member, IEEE

Abstract—Thermal ﬂuctuation effects on the electric behavior of a spintronic memristor based upon the spin-torque-induced domain-wall motion are explored. Depending upon material, geometry, and electric excitation strength, the device electric behavior can be either sensitive or insensitive to temperature change. We present temperature sensor designs that operate at a temperature sensitive region. The sensitivity is achieved through a combination of the temperature-dependent domain-wall mobility and the positive feedback between memristor resistance and driving strength. Index Terms—Domain wall, spintronic memristor, temperature sensor, thermal ﬂuctuations.

I. I NTRODUCTION HE MEMRISTOR concept [1] recently received significant attention due to the demonstration of a practical nanoscale memristor device based upon ionic transport in a resistive memory stack [2]. Nanoscale spintronic memristor has been proposed based upon spin-torque-induced magnetization motion [3] and spin transport at semiconductor/ferromagnet junction [4]. Thermal ﬂuctuation at ﬁnite temperature has important implications to nanoscale magnetic devices [5], [6]. In this letter, we propose a spintronic memristor temperature sensor exploring thermal ﬂuctuation effects on domain-wall motion in a spinvalve structure. II. D EVICE T HEORY The spin-valve domain-wall memristor structure is shown in Fig. 1. The spintronic memristor consists of a long spin-valve strip which includes two ferromagnetic layers: reference and free layers. The magnetization direction of the reference layer is ﬁxed by coupling to a pinned magnetic layer. The free layer is divided by a domain wall into two segments that have opposite magnetization directions to each other. The device time domain resistance depends upon domain-wall position R(t) = RH − (RH − RL )X(t)/D (1)

T

Fig. 1.

Spin-valve magnetic domain-wall memristor.

where RH and RL are the high and low resistances of the spin valve. D is the spin-valve length, and X is the domain-wall position. Domain-wall position is moved through current-induced spin torque excitation. For a ferromagnet with magnetization saturation Ms , exchange strength A, easy z-axis anisotropy Hk , and hard y-axis anisotropy Hp , the spin-torque-induced domainwall motion at ﬁnite temperature is described through stochastic Landau–Lifshitz–Gilbert equation [7] with a spin torque term [8], [9]. Using rigid wall approximation [10], [11], the domainwall motion is expressed in terms of magnetization spherical angles Ms (sin θ cos φ, sin θ sin φ, cos θ) as θ(x, t) = θ0 (x − X(t)) φ(x, t) = φ0 (t)

where θ0 (x) = arccos[tanh(x/w)] is the function of the domain-wall shape. w = 2A/Ms Hk is the domain-wall thickness. X(t) is the domain-wall position. Domain-wall speed is dX(t)/dt. The domain-wall position X(t) satisﬁes the following stochastic differential equations [10], [11]: α dX dφ + = ηφ dt w dt dφ 1 dX vs −α = ω0 sin(2φ) + + ηX w dt dt w

Manuscript received October 9, 2009. First published December 1, 2009; current version published December 23, 2009. X. Wang and Y. Chen are with Seagate Technology, Bloomington, MN 55435 USA (e-mail: xiaobin.wang@ieee.org; yiran.chen@ieee.org). Y. Gu is with the St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN 56301 USA (e-mail: guyingw@yahoo.com). H. Li is with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA (email: hli@poly.edu). Color versions of one or more of the ﬁgures in this letter are available online at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org. Digital Object Identiﬁer 10.1109/LED.2009.2035643

(2)

where ω0 = γHp /2 (γ being the gyro-magnetic ratio), α is the damping parameter, and vs = P JuB /eMs is the spin torque excitation strength. P is the polarization efﬁciency, uB is the Bohr magneton, and e is the elementary electron charge. ηφ (t) and ηX (t) are the φ and X component thermal ﬂuctuation

0741-3106/$26.00 © 2009 IEEE

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WANG et al.: SPINTRONIC MEMRISTOR TEMPERATURE SENSOR

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ﬁelds, respectively. Their magnitudes are determined through the ﬂuctuation dissipation condition ηφ (t)ηφ (t ) = ηX (t)ηX (t ) = 2αkB T δ(t − t ) N (3)

where kB is the Boltzman constant, T is the temperature, is the Planck constant, and N = 2wS/a3 is the number of spins in the domain wall with the cross-sectional surface area S and domain-wall thickness w. a is the lattice constant. III. D EVICE S CALING B EHAVIOR Domain-wall mobility at ﬁnite temperature depends upon both spin torque excitation strength and thermal ﬂuctuation magnitude. Equation (2) predicts that the domain-wall velocity is a function of the normalized spin torque excitation strength and the normalized thermal ﬂuctuation magnitude. Spin torque excitation strength is proportional to current density. The normalized current density is deﬁned as P JuB /eMs wω0 . At zero temperature, the domain wall starts to move only when the current density is above the critical value, P JuB /eMs wω0 = 1. At ﬁnite temperature, the domain wall can move even when current density is below the critical value. The average domain-wall velocity (normalized by vs ) as a function of the normalized current density (P JuB /eMs wω0 ) and the normalized thermal ﬂuctuation magnitude (4kB T /N ω0 ) can be obtained by solving the stochastic differential equation (2). Detailed mathematical techniques can be referred to [12]. Fig. 2 shows the normalized domain-wall velocity as a function of the normalized current density for different normalized thermal ﬂuctuation magnitudes. Temperature sensitive and insensitive regions can be observed. Curves with kneeling shapes are around the critical current density, where the domain-wall velocity is sensitive to thermal ﬂuctuation magnitude. The spin-valve low and high resistances scale as RL /Rh0 = [D/Z(h/h0)] and RH = RL (1 + GM R)RL , where Rh0 is the sheet ﬁlm resistance with a thickness h0 , giant magnetoresistance ratio (GMR) is the magnetoresistance ratio, and D, Z, and h are the ferromagnet length, width, and thickness. IV. D EVICE O PERATION P RINCIPLE AND E XAMPLE For temperature sensing, a biasing voltage pulse with constant magnitude is applied to the spintronic memristor. Resistance difference before and after voltage pulse is measured. This resistance difference is calibrated to the sense temperature magnitude. Fig. 2 shows that domain-wall mobility increases as temperature increases. Equation (1) shows that memristor resistance dropping is proportional to domain-wall moving distance. Thus, after applying a constant magnitude voltage pulse, device resistance dropping is bigger at a higher temperature. The temperature sensing memristor is operated at a region where its electric behavior is sensitive to temperature change. This is achieved through a combination of temperaturedependent domain-wall mobility and the positive feedback between resistance and driving strength in memristor. Fig. 2 shows the sensitive dependence of domain-wall velocity upon temperature at kneeling region around the critical current value.

Fig. 2. Average domain-wall velocity as a function of the normalized current density for different thermal ﬂuctuation strengths. (a) and (b) are the same ﬁgure plotted at different normalized current density scales.

The positive feedback between resistance and driving strength is a unique property of the memristor. Memristor’s resistance depends upon the integration of current/voltage excitation. For a constant voltage pulse driving, a higher temperature results to an increased domain-wall moving distance. The increased domain-wall moving distance results to a smaller resistance. The smaller resistance results to a higher driving current density, thus providing a positive feedback to further increase domain-wall distance. This positive feedback accelerates domain-wall speed and reduces device resistance further for constant voltage pulse driving. We illustrate the temperature sensing working principle through a practical device design example. The material properties of the device are magnetization saturation Ms = 1010 emu/cc, exchange strength A = 1.8 · 10−11 J/m, easy z-axis anisotropy Hk = 100 Oe, and hard y-axis anisotropy Hp = 5000 Oe. The resistance of the sheet ﬁlm is 50 Ω for a 70-A thickness square thin ﬁlm, and GMR is 12%. The geometry of the device is 268 nm long, 17 nm wide, and 10 nm thick. The damping parameter is α = 0.02, and polarization efﬁciency is P = 0.3. The number of spins in the domain wall is N = 2.2 · 107 . Using the aforementioned parameters, for Fig. 2, the normalized thermal magnitude is 4kB T /N ω0 = 0.008 at room temperature T = 300 K. The critical current density is

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IEEE ELECTRON DEVICE LETTERS, VOL. 31, NO. 1, JANUARY 2010

Fig. 3. Spintronic memristor resistance as a function of time at different temperatures (300, 350, and 400 K) for a constant magnitude voltage pulse driving.

Jsc = eMs wω0 /P uB = 3 · 108 A/cm2 . The normalized velocity is P Jsc uB /eMs = 52 m/s at critical current density. We use a single square wave pulse with a duration of 80 ns and a magnitude of 0.3 V to excite the device. Fig. 3 shows the device resistance dropping as a function of time for different temperatures (300, 350, and 400 K). Device resistance eventually ﬂattens out when domain wall settles to a ﬁxed position after voltage pulse excitation. Solid curves on the ﬁgure are the resistance changes for the proposed spintronic memristor at different temperatures. Dash lines are the resistance dropping for a nonmemristive device without positive feedback between the resistance and the integration of the driving strength. The dash lines are equivalent to the simulations with ﬁxed driving current strength of 0.3 V /RH S. It can be seen that a positive feedback between resistance and driving strength in memristor signiﬁcantly increases the temperature sensing margin. The material of our proposed spintronic memristor temperature sensor is similar to the commercial recording head material. However, we believe that our proposed device structure is novel: we are not aware of any applications of domain-wall motion in a spin-valve strip structure in any practical devices. The positive feedback between domain-wall motion and accumulated resistance change is the key ingredient for this memristive device. The sensing temperature range of our proposed device is from 300 to 400 K, which covers the normal operation range of semiconductor chip. The required power supply voltage is 0.3 V, with a typical power consumption of 150 μW. The linearity is 0.5 Ω/◦, and the surface area is 300 nm × 20 nm. Because the working principle of the device is based upon integration of domain-wall motion under thermal ﬂuctuation, the intrinsic random noise variations are averaged and suppressed. The device provides reproducible temperature readings. Compared to the available on-chip temperature sensors, our device requires

much lower power supply voltage (which can be even used in the subthreshold voltage region) and power consumption (compared to some on-chip oscillation-ring-based temperature sensor that consumes huge dynamic power), nanoscale feature size, low cost, and the mature integration technology with the CMOS process. Please note that our device is targeting the highly integrated on-chip thermal detection applications (e.g., cell size < 1 μm2 ). Therefore, it may not be fair to compare our device to any standalone or bulk thermal sensors. We note that our main contribution in this letter is to demonstrate the theory and feasibility of a temperature sensor based on the domain-wall motion in magnetic strip in a spin-valve structure. The operating range and device properties can be further tuned according to practical needs and material capabilities (e.g., the thermal effects in the device scale as temperature over domain-wall thickness, as shown in Section III). Varying domain-wall thickness through the tuning magnetic material properties could change the device temperature operating range. Linearity or resolution of the device can be improved by utilizing the magnetic stack with high GMR or even the tunneling magnetoresistance ratio stack. Also, it is well known that memristor has a rich dynamic behavior when excited with a dynamic current/voltage proﬁle. Thus, device behavior can be further optimized by examining the combined effects of current/voltage excitation and domain-wall motion. R EFERENCES

[1] L. O. Chua, “Memristor—The missing circuit element,” IEEE Trans. Circuit Theory, vol. CT-18, no. 5, pp. 507–519, Sep. 1971. [2] D. B. Strukov, G. S. Snider, D. R. Stewart, and R. S. Williams, “The missing memristor found,” Nature, vol. 453, no. 7191, pp. 80–83, May 2008. [3] X. Wang, Y. Chen, H. Xi, H. Li, and D. Dimitrov, “Spintronic memristor through spin torque induced magnetization motion,” IEEE Electron Device Lett., vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 294–297, Mar. 2009. [4] Y. V. Pershin and M. Di Ventra, “Spin memristive systems: Spin memory effects in semiconductor spintronics,” Phys. Rev. B, Condens. Matter, vol. 78, no. 11, pp. 113 309-1–113 309-3, Sep. 2008. [5] N. Smith and P. Arnett, “White-noise magnetization ﬂuctuations in magnetoresistive heads,” Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 78, no. 10, pp. 1448–1450, Mar. 2001. [6] N. H. Bertram, X. Wang, and V. L. Safonov, “Dynamic-thermal effects in thin ﬁlm media,” IEEE Trans. Magn., vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 1521–1527, Jul. 2001. [7] W. F. Brown, “Thermal ﬂuctuations of a single-domain particle,” Phys. Rev., vol. 130, no. 5, pp. 1677–1686, Jun. 1963. [8] J. C. Slonczewski, “Current driven excitation of magnetic multilayers,” J. Magn. Magn. Mater., vol. 159, no. 1/2, pp. L1–L7, Jun. 1996. [9] L. Berger, “Emission of spin waves by magnetic multilayer traversed by a current,” Phys. Rev. B, Condens. Matter, vol. 54, no. 13, pp. 9353–9358, Oct. 1996. [10] G. Tatara and H. Kohno, “Theory of current-driven domain wall motion: Spin transfer versus momentum transfer,” Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 92, no. 8, p. 086 601, Feb. 2004. [11] R. A. Duine, A. S. Nunez, and A. H. MacDonald, “Thermally assisted current-driven domain-wall motion,” Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 98, no. 5, p. 056 605, Feb. 2007. [12] H. Risken, The Fokker-Planck Equation. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1984.

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UsefulNot usefulThermal fluctuation effects on the electric behavior
of a spintronic memristor based upon the spin-torque-induced
domain-wall motion are explored. Depending upon material,
geometry, and electric ex...

Thermal fluctuation effects on the electric behavior

of a spintronic memristor based upon the spin-torque-induced

domain-wall motion are explored. Depending upon material,

geometry, and electric excitation strength, the device electric behavior

can be either sensitive or insensitive to temperature change.

of a spintronic memristor based upon the spin-torque-induced

domain-wall motion are explored. Depending upon material,

geometry, and electric excitation strength, the device electric behavior

can be either sensitive or insensitive to temperature change.

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