Magnetic Thin Films

The emergence of connected electronic devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) era has fueled the need for real-time decision making at the data source, or “edge intelligence”. Coupled with the scaling limitations of conventional CMOS technology, there is a growing need to develop computing elements with energy-efficient, GHz switching as a scalable solution for next-generation infocomm technology. Spin technologies have previously harnessed the electron spin for pathbreaking applications in electronics – used in today’s hard disks and tomorrow’s magnetic random access memory (MRAM). Next-generation spin technologies are further expected to create devices with lower switching power, faster dynamics and higher endurance. 

One such avenue is spin transfer torque (STT) – wherein an electrical current can be used to control the magnetization of a memory cell [A*STAR STT BIP]. Indeed, several companies are already developing commercial STT-MRAM solutions on the gigabit scale.  Another particularly attractive avenue is spin-orbit coupling (SOC) – the entwining of electron spin and momentum. SOC has recently found to be greatly enhanced at heavy metal (HM) – ferromagnet (FM) interfaces in magnetic thin films within materials used in commercial MRAM stacks [Nature ‘16]. On one hand, interfacial SOC provides a fast, energy-efficient means of magnetization switching – known as spin-orbit torque [A*STAR SOT BIP]. On the other hand, it creates new topological phases, such as topological materials, magnetic skyrmions etc., that are unusually robust in ambient conditions [A*STAR Sk BIP]. 

At IMRE, we aim to utilize our expertise and capabilities in magnetic thin films and devices to develop emerging and next-generation solutions for a range of nanoelectronic applications. 

Figure 1. Emergent spin-orbit phenomena at interfaces of magnetic thin films, which promise a range of nanoelectronic applications. Adapted from A. Soumyanarayanan et al., Nature 2016. 


IMRE’s efforts in magnetic thin films build on our well-established capabilities in the areas of 1) Materials and Device Development, 2) Microscopy and Modelling, 3) Electrical Transport Measurements, and 4) 200 mm wafer-level scaling. The fabrication and translational components utilize a well-established 200 mm semiconductor fabrication platform which has been successfully used for multiple industry collaborations.

 For 200 mm stack fabrication, we have the Singulus Timaris cluster sputtering system with pre-cleaning, annealing, wedge deposition and multi-target (over 20) process modules at 2 Å thickness uniformity. Cassette-level fabrication is processed using a copper protocol line including spin coating with the SVG 90S track; lithography with (a) DUV stepper (Canon EX5, 248 nm) and (b) DUV mask aligner (EVG …, 1.25 um); etching by (a) dielectric (SPTS Etch), (b) inductively coupled plasma (Oxford PlasmaPro 100 ICP), (c) ion-beam (Oxford Ionfab 300Plus), passivation using OIPT Plasmalab 380, electrode deposition using Singular Rotaris or AMAT Endura PVD system etc. 

Our electrical measurements build on custom-made device testing platforms and probe stations with pulsing capabilities <1 ns and noise levels down to ~1nV. Wafer-level capabilities include an ISI Wafer auto-prober capable of conducting device testing modules including TMR, switching voltage, breakdown voltage, endurance, bit error rates etc. We also have custom-made high-frequency spectroscopy setups that can be used for broadband ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) or spin-torque ferromagnetic resonance (ST-FMR) over a large range of frequencies (up to 67 GHz), magnetic fields (up to 2 T vectorial), and temperatures (4 – 325 K). 

Further Details are provided here. 

Highlights & Achievements

Spin-Transfer Torque Switching
Spin-Orbit Torque Switching
Magnetic Skyrmions


Dr. Anjan Soumyanrayanan, 
Dr. Lim Sze Ter, 
We welcome queries and collaboration partners for both the research and commercialization of spin related materials, technologies and devices.