Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor


Committee Member 1


Committee Member 2


Committee Member 3



Several completely new approaches (such as spintronic, carbon nanotube, graphene, TFETs, etc.) to information processing and data storage technologies are emerging to address the time frame beyond current Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) roadmap. The high speed magnetization switching of a nano-magnet due to current induced spin-transfer torque (STT) have been demonstrated in recent experiments. Such STT devices can be explored in compact, low power memory and logic design. In order to truly leverage STT devices based computing, researchers require a re-think of circuit, architecture, and computing model, since the STT devices are unlikely to be drop-in replacements for CMOS. The potential of STT devices based computing will be best realized by considering new computing models that are inherently suited to the characteristics of STT devices, and new applications that are enabled by their unique capabilities, thereby attaining performance that CMOS cannot achieve. The goal of this research is to conduct synergistic exploration in architecture, circuit and device levels for Boolean and brain-inspired computing using nanoscale STT devices. Specifically, we first show that the non-volatile STT devices can be used in designing configurable Boolean logic blocks. We propose a spin-memristor threshold logic (SMTL) gate design, where memristive cross-bar array is used to perform current mode summation of binary inputs and the low power current mode spintronic threshold device carries out the energy efficient threshold operation. Next, for brain-inspired computing, we have exploited different spin-transfer torque device structures that can implement the hard-limiting and soft-limiting artificial neuron transfer functions respectively. We apply such STT based neuron (or ‘spin-neuron’) in various neural network architectures, such as hierarchical temporal memory and feed-forward neural network, for performing “human-like” cognitive computing, which show more than two orders of lower energy consumption compared to state of the art CMOS implementation. Finally, we show the dynamics of injection locked Spin Hall Effect Spin-Torque Oscillator (SHE-STO) cluster can be exploited as a robust multi-dimensional distance metric for associative computing, image/ video analysis, etc. Our simulation results show that the proposed system architecture with injection locked SHE-STOs and the associated CMOS interface circuits can be suitable for robust and energy efficient associative computing and pattern matching.