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Tohoku University researchers have, for the first time, developed the technology for the nanosecond operation of the spintronics-based probabilistic bit (p-bit)—dubbed "the poor man's quantum bit" (q-bit).

The late physicist R.P. Feynman envisioned a probabilistic computer capable of dealing with probabilities at scale to enable efficient computing. "Using spintronics, our latest technology made the first step in realizing Feynman's vision," said Shun Kanai, professor at the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University and lead author of the study.

Magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) are the key component of non-volatile memory or MRAM, a mass produced memory technology that uses magnetization to store information. There, thermal fluctuation typically poses a threat to the stable storage of information.

P-bits, on the other hand, function with these thermal fluctuations in thermally unstable (stochastic) MTJs. Prior collaborative research between Tohoku University and Purdue University demonstrated a spintronics-based probabilistic computer at room temperature consisting of stochastic MTJs with millisecond-long relaxation times.

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