France launches a 4.2M euro large-scale spintronics project

The French National Research Agency (ANR) has announced its support to the SPIN project (SPintronics for Innovative Nanotechnologies) - which aims at demonstrating the potential impact and competitiveness of a new generation of devices incorporating in a single chip (3D) spintronics elements and CMOS technology. The project's budget is 4.2M euro, and has 11 partners.

Combined with CMOS circuits, Spintronics could offer discriminating benefits over pure CMOS counterparts. Basic proofs of concept mixing these two technologies have already been demonstrated and yielded highly innovative components as building blocks for many different products covering health, energy monitoring, domestics, automotive, aeronautics, and electronics. Beside non volatile logic developments, two new important needs have recently emerged where Spintronics components could be essential: arrays of ultra sensitive, low noise magnetic sensors for medical applications and in particular for biochips, and compact arrays of magnetic sensors with high galvanic insulation for current and voltage non contact monitoring. These magnetic sensors are based on the spin-valve technology, an industrial derivative of the well-known GMR effect. CMOS integration of spin valve devices for achieving extended control, high reproducibility and low cost is the main challenge for wide implementation of these devices for magnetic sensing. Partners of the SPIN consortium have already developed proofs of concepts of these devices in the prior projects.

Another opportunity for Spintronics lies into building hybrid components exploiting the MRAM features (non-volatility, robustness and performances) coupled with CMOS logic. New design and complex integrated systems could be imagined, as for instance fine grained reconfigurable architecture such as FPGA. Several partners of the SPIN consortium are actively involved in this domain and have developed original designs for the FPGA application during the previous ANR funded CILOMAG project.

The SPIN project will combine the spin-valve sensor technology and magnetic reconfigurable FPGA to propose industrially
pertinent 3D technology demonstrators in the domain of power management and medical applications. To reach such ambitious objectives in the short timescale (15 month) defined by the NanoInnov/RT framework, the consortium gathers state of the art complementary expertise in magnetic sensors and FPGA, and endeavors to set up a collaborative framework for technical facilities between the NanoInnov Integration Centres of Paris-Region and Grenoble, which will remain after the project as an open platform for future developments.

Posted: Dec 21,2009 by Ron Mertens