Science and Technology

Técnico is part of a spintronics and artificial intelligence project that has won European funding

The MultiSpin.AI project has secured funding totalling more than three million euros. The Lisbon team is led by Susana Cardoso de Freitas from INESC MN

INESC Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC MN), a research unit affiliated with Instituto Superior Técnico, is one of the partners of the MultiSpin.AI project, which started in February 2024 and will last three years. The project has secured funding totalling more than three million euros from the EIC Pathfinder funding programme.

MultiSpin.AI proposes to apply spintronics – the area of physics that studies the properties of electrons, such as spin, in electronic circuits – to the field of artificial intelligence. Processing units will be developed for electrical circuits based on magnetic tunnel junctions. This is a quantum phenomenon that allows electrons to behave in ways not foreseen in classical physics, being able to cross obstacles that, under ‘usual’ conditions, they would not have enough energy to overcome.

The magnetic tunnel junctions developed by MultiSpin.AI exhibit multiple distinguishable magnetic states, allowing for more than the usual two digital states (the ‘ON’ and ‘OFF’, or 1 and 0, when represented in binary code). In this way, and using concepts from quantum mechanics, the aim is to achieve significant gains in terms of computing speed and energy efficiency.

The impact of MultiSpin.AI is expected to be relevant in artificial intelligence applications that require high energy consumption and increased computational resources, thus benefiting from the optimisation of processing capacity brought by this project (for example, in areas that require “on-site” computing, such as autonomous mobility or robotics).

The research consortium brings together researchers from INESC MN, Bar-Ilan University (Israel) and Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), as well as industrial partners such as SpinEdge (Israel) and I-FEVS (Italy). In Lisbon, the team is led by Susana Cardoso de Freitas, a professor at Técnico and a researcher at INESC MN, whose work in thin films and spintronics will contribute to the design and manufacture of magnetic nanodevices in the project.