Data stored in the 3D microchip can not only move from left to right but can also move between the layers of the metals stacked horizontally in the chip. Describing today’s chips as bungalows where everything happens only on one floor, the researchers have said that they have created “stairways allowing information to pass between floors.”
To create the 3D chip, physicists used a special kind of chip called the spintronic chip wherein the power of electron’s tiny magnetic moment or ‘spin’ is utilized. The spintronic chip is already being used in MDRAM memory chips in systems offered by Dell. Using a technique called ‘sputtering’, researchers created layers of cobalt, platinum and ruthenium atoms similar to layers in a club sandwich. Digital information is stored in cobalt and platinum atoms and the ruthenium atoms are used to communicate the information between the layers.
The major breakthrough of the research is the low-cost and practical method of making the layer based approach work. Using a "magnetic ratchet", the physicists were able to transfer information from one layer to another. The researcher probed the layers for their data content through a laser technique called ‘Moke’. Turning on and off the magnetic field, researcher saw through the Moke signal that the data was climbing up the layers.
Professor Russell Cowburn, lead researcher on the project said, “This is the 21st century way of building things – harnessing the basic power of elements and materials to give built-in functionality.”