Physics Colloquium: Nanoscale Magnetic Tunnel Junction for Emerging Computing Paradigm
Prof. Ethan C. Ahn, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Abstract: The scaling of today’s silicon-CMOS technology cannot satisfy the performance and energy-efficiency needs of abundant-data applications such as deep learning, as they require real-time analytics on enormous quantities of user data. Therefore, research is essential on novel computing hardware to tackle the fundamental limitation of either conventional semiconducting materials or von Neumann computing architecture. The nano MTJ (nanoscale magnetic tunnel junction) possesses the great potential to advance the emerging computing paradigm due to its excellent scalability, tunability and compatibility, alongside the intrinsic benefits in high-speed and low-power. In this talk, cutting-edge spintronics research with nano MTJ is presented as a novel device platform for embedded memory (STT-MRAM) and neuromorphic computing (spintronic synapses and neurons) applications. For STT-MRAM, pioneering works on improving the manufacturability of nano MTJ as well as understanding the spin-dependent transport in nanoscale solids are discussed. For neuromorphic computing, a novel experimental approach to developing the reconfigurable spintronic synapse is demonstrated by using the perpendicular MTJ. The spintronic deep learning accelerator is found to significantly outperform the state-of-the-art.
Dr. Ahn is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering (EE) at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Previously, he served as a Senior Panel Process Engineer at Apple, and as a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in EE at Stanford University in 2015 under the supervision of Prof. H.-S. Philip Wong. He joined Stanford in 2010 after a 3-year research career on the STT-MRAM technology with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in EE from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, Korea, in 2005 and 2007, respectively. He is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed research products. Dr. Ahn has been the recipient of numerous awards of over $4M, including the prestigious AFOSR grant in Quantum Electronic Solids (2019). He is currently serving as the concentration chair for electronic materials and devices and the graduate advisor of record for advanced materials engineering at UTSA.