Fast switching dynamics of three terminal magnetic tunnel junctions Position filled

Host institution

ETH Zurich is one of the world-leading universities for technology and the natural sciences. It is well-known for its education, fundamental research, and technology transfer. Founded in 1855, ETH Zurich today has more than 19,000 students from over 110 countries, including 4,000 doctoral students.

The Laboratory of Magnetism and Interfaces is specialized in the study of magnetic interfaces and nanostructures, with emphasis on spin-orbit phenomena. Extensive sample growth facilities are available as well as electrical, optical, and scanning probe characterization tools.


Prof. Pietro Gambardella


This project will address the optimization of materials and devices for sub-ns current-induced switching of magnetic bits in magnetic random access memories.

Recent studies have shown that current-induced spin-orbit torques enable few ns to sub-ns magnetization switching in magnetic tunnel junctions with reduced incubation time relative to spin-transfer torques. However, several questions remain open:

i) In order to reduce the single-device as well as device-to-device variability in actual memories, the statistical distribution of switching times must be narrowed to a fraction of the total switching time, ideally below 100 ps.

ii) Although the switching voltage is typically below 1 V, the critical current density required by spin-orbit torque switching is presently one order of magnitude too large compared to spin transfer torque.

These issues will be addressed by

1) studying the size and shape dependence of the switching dynamics in magnetic tunnel junctions based on material stacks optimized for large charge-spin conversion effects (collaboration with IMEC) and

2) combining spin-orbit torques with voltage control of magnetic anisotropy and spin transfer torques in three-terminal magnetic tunnel junctions.

The PhD student will be trained in time-resolved electrical measurements of nanodevices, magnetization dynamics, magnetic characterization techniques, and statistical analysis of large datasets.


We are looking for a highly motivated student with a broad interest in physics, electrical engineering, and technology. You should be willing to learn about many topics such as magnetism, spintronics, radio frequency electronics, pulse sequence programming. You can expect a cutting-edge research project that is very challenging due to the many aspects of physics and technology involved. We encourage female candidates to apply for this position.

Planned Secondments

ANTAIOS, under the supervision of Marc Drouard.

IMEC, under the supervision of Sebastien Couet.

Registering University

ETHZ (Zurich, Switzerland).

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