New "MRAM for biomolecules" microchip concept developed using microfluidics and spin valves

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado Boulder (CU) developed a new chip that uses microfluidics and magnetic switches to trap and transport magnetic beads. This low-power device may be useful for medical devices. This technology may also lead us towards "MRAM" chips used for molecular and cellular manipulation.

In the past, magnetic particle transport chips required continuous power and even cooling. This new technology manages to overcome the power and heat issues, and offers random-access two-dimensional control and non-volatile memory. The prototype chip uses 12 spin valves (commonly used as magnetic sensors in HD read heads) which are optimized for magnetic trapping. Pulses of electric current are used to switch individual spin valve magnets “on” to trap a bead, or “off” to release it, and thereby move the bead down a ladder formed by the two lines. The beads start out suspended in salt water above the valves before being trapped in the array.

Researchers from Hokkaido University aim to fabricate "Beyond CMOS" switching devices

Researchers from the Quantum Electronics Laboratory at Hokkaido University are studying quantum functional devices, with the aim of fabricating "Beyond CMOS" switching devices. To achieve this, the researchers have proposed "quantum cross devices," which have nanoscale contacts. Quantum cross devices utilize a new structure, where the edges of thin metal films are crossed. In this structure, the contact area depends on the film thickness. For example, metal films 1-20 nm thick can, in principle, form a nanoscale contact with size between 1 x 1 and 20 x 20 square nanometers.

Tokyo researchers study how the behavior of single electrons can be controlled and measured

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are studying how precisely the behavior of single electrons can be controlled and measured. The researchers fabricate semiconductor nanostructures, and investigate their behavior on timescales at or below the nanosecond level. They then study the particle and wave properties of electrons, as well as their interaction: