Non-volatile memories –which can retain information even when power is removed— are largely employed in computers, tablets, pen drives and many other electronic devices. Among the various existing technologies, magnetoresistive random-access memories (MRAM), currently used only in specific applications, are expected to expand considerably on the market in the decade to come. The newest MRAMs based on spintronic mechanisms can offer faster operations, lower power consumption and long retention time, with potential applications in wearable devices, automotive industry, and the Internet of Things, among others.
In this context, graphene and other 2D materials, which are as thin as one or very few atomic layers, may play a disruptive role. In fact, their peculiar and remarkable characteristics can provide efficient solutions to current technological challenges and performance limitations that prevent massive commercial deployment of MRAMs; therefore, 2D materials can have a strong impact on the design of next-generation spintronic devices.
Together with an international consortium of key players in the field, including industries such as SAMSUNG, GLOBAL FOUNDRIES and THALES, we have overviewed the extraordinary opportunities provided by two-dimensional (2D) materials for the development of next-generation non- volatile memories, based on spintronic mechanisms. the fundamental properties of 2D materials such as atomically smooth interfaces, reduced material intermixing, crystal symmetries, and proximity effects have been discussed as the drivers for possible disruptive improvements for spin based MRAMs. These are emerging as key enabling low-power technologies and are expected to spread over large markets from embedded memories, low-power-consumption, and high-capability memories to the Internet of Things devices.
This is a reference paper, clarifying the true advantage of graphene and 2D materials for novel technologies, and pointing out for the decade to come the milestones to be accomplished for an eventual integration into real commercial products.