Thin Films and Physics of Nanostructures

Research: Functional materials for spintronic devices: Memristor

Most of my research activities are located in the exciting and productive fields of spintronic and neuromorphic devices. We use memristive systems to mimic the synaptic functionality of the brain with a simple device. In spintronics, we utilize the spin or the magnetic moment of the (quasi-)particles in solids to store and manipulate information.

We can utilize memristors to pave the way to computer architectures that are more similar to the (human) brain than von-Neumann computers. In principle, neural networks work as a combination of neurons and synapses. Electronic devices can easily emulate the neurons and their behavior, however, it turned out to be more difficult to mimic the synaptic functionality. The memristor can fill this gap and also allows the access to analog values.

Another research direction explores the physics in spin dependent devices exposed to a temperature gradient, which is called spin caloritronics. In particular, we look into the magneto Seebeck effect in magnetic tunnel junctions. This is done in the framework of the DFG priority program SpinCaT.

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Z. Jin, A. Tkach, F. Casper, V. Spetter, H. Grimm, A. Thomas, T. Kampfrath, M. Bonn, M. Kläui & D. Turchinovich: Accessing the fundamentals of magnetotransport in metals with terahertz probes, Nature Phys. (2015) doi:10.1038/nphys3384

A. Thomas A, S. Niehörster, S. Fabretti, N.Shepheard, O. Kuschel, K. Küpper, J. Wollschläger, P. Krzysteczko and E. Chicca: Tunnel junction based memristors as artificial synapses, Front. Neurosci. 9 (2015) 241

Andy Thomas receives the physics prize 2014 of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities „für seine Arbeiten, in denen er die memristiven Eigenschaften von Tunnelkontakten nutzt, um künstliche neuronale Strukturen zu schaffen.“


Andy Thomas
PD Dr. Andy Thomas studied physics at Bielefeld University. After a two year fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he returned to Bielefeld to work as a senior researcher. In october 2009, he received an independent researcher grant from the NRW state government and he worked as a visiting professor at Mainz, Osnabrück and Hamburg universities.