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A New Spin on Low-Energy Computing

Virginia Watterson • DATE: September 21, 2016

Professor X. Sharon Hu recently began working as a principal investigator for the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces, and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN), which coordinates the research of 36 professors (and over 100 graduate students and postdocs) from 22 universities.

The work Professor Hu will do for C-SPIN is, in some ways, a natural extension of her work for the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST), which is headquartered here at Notre Dame. Like LEAST, C-SPIN is one of six national Centers funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, a consortium of DARPA and sponsors from the computer industry. Also like LEAST, C-SPIN aims to develop technology for new generations of low-energy, high-efficiency, high-speed computers.

C-SPIN is exclusively focused on using electron spin – rather than electric current – to revolutionize processing, random access memory, and other features of computational devices. In the past four years, C-SPIN has developed and studied hundreds of new spintronic materials and devices, and several new devices are in its research pipeline.

But how good are these materials and devices, and can they compete with the “traditional” features of present day and future computers? Dr. Hu will help C-SPIN with “benchmarking,” which means that she will compare C-SPIN materials and devices with industry standards. Her analyses will help determine how various streams of spintronic research should be started, accelerated, or even halted.

Professor Hu will also work with C-SPIN’s “computational architectures” team to explore novel applications for existing spintronic computing devices and approaches to the development of new devices.

C-SPIN funding for Hu’s lab will continue at least through 2017.