"CHIPS: bonding breakthrough may ease MRAM design"
For all their promise, magnetic random-access memories have barely made it out of the lab due to problems plaguing their scaling to smaller sizes--namely, the need for lower drive current and thinner metallization. Now researchers at Sandia National Laboratories claim to have patented a method for solving MRAM and other such metal-on-insulator problems. "Ordinarily, putting metal on an insulator is like putting water on a waxed car," said Dwight Jennison, a theoretical physicist at Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, N.M.). "What we are offering here, to anyone who is trying to mix insulators and metals, is the ability to make a strong interface between them, resulting in more reliable devices that are less likely to develop cracks--in everything from thin films to macroscale metal-clad ceramics." The method--discovered by Jennison with chemist Scott Chambers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Jeffrey Kelber, a professor of chemistry at the University of North Texas--could have implications well beyond MRAMs. It could also revolutionize every macroscale industrial process that involves putting metal on insulators, such as metal-clad ceramics that today require extensive brazing.