Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Potential Future Data Storage at Domain Boundaries

15.01.2014
Scientists discover polar domain walls in antiferroelectric materials

Storing more and more in an ever-smaller space – what sounds impossible is in fact just part of the daily routine in information technology, where for decades, increasing amounts of data have been successfully stored on media with ever higher densities.


Electron microscopic image of an antiferroelectric crystal, with the dark, prominent diagonal lines marking the boundaries. The bar at the bottom left indicates a length of 200 nanometers.

Source: Forschungszentrum Jülich


Atomic resolution electron microscopic image, with a boundary marked horizontally in cyan. The coloured circles illustrate the constituent parts of the crystal; lead (yellow), zirconium (green) and oxygen (red). The arrows show the polarization, which is neutralized outside the boundaries. The white bar indicates a length of one nanometer.

Source: Forschungszentrum Jülich

An international team, including researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich, has now discovered a physical phenomenon that could prove suitable for use in further data aggregation. They found that domain walls, which separate areas in certain crystalline materials, display a polarization, potentially allowing information to be stored in the tiniest of spaces, thus saving energy.

The results of this study have been published in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4031).

Scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland, and Xi'an Jiaotong University in China, have investigated so-called antiferroelectric crystals with the help of the most advanced electron microscopes and computer simulations. These materials possess no electrical polarization and for this reason, seemed up until recently to be of no interest for such applications. The researchers have now discovered that certain areas within these materials do indeed exhibit ferroelectric polar properties.

Ferroelectricity is generated when displacements of positive and negative ions result in the formation of electrical dipoles. The magnitude and orientation of these dipoles, also known as polarization, can be altered using an external electric field and is able to maintain itself without any additional current until it is overwritten. Ferroelectric materials are for this reason already used, for example, to store data on train tickets.

The ferroelectric areas that the researchers have discovered are only around two nanometers thick and could therefore one day be used to store data in a tenth of the space that magnetic materials use. They form the boundaries between identically-structured areas of the otherwise antiferroelectric materials.

"We can imagine these materials as being like three-dimensional patchwork objects made from regularly-arranged building blocks, which are the domains", explains Dr. Xiankui Wei, visiting scientist at the Peter Grünberg Institute and the Ernst Ruska-Centre, and post-doctoral researcher at EPFL. "Within each individual building block, the polarization is absent due to cancellation of oppositely arranged electric dipoles in the basic structure unit. However, the boundaries or 'walls' between domains are polar."

Investigations using atomic resolution electron microscopy, with the help of a technique developed at Forschungszentrum Jülich showed that each wall is uniformly polarized. To change the polarization and write the data, the only requirement is a voltage pulse, as the polarization is then stored until overwritten. As no current is necessary, this uses less energy than magnetic data storage does.

"What is especially exciting in terms of applications is the special arrangement of the walls", reports Prof. Nava Setter of EPFL; under the microscope it is possible to see at relatively low magnification, that the domains are separated from each other by long, parallel walls. The position of the strain-free walls is variable – upon application of an inhomogeneous electric field, they move either closer together or further apart. The researchers intend to investigate these phenomena in more detail, as the ability to accurately control the mobility and density of the walls are important requirements in terms of technical applications.

Original publication:

Ferroelectric translational antiphase boundaries in nonpolar materials;
Xian-Kui Wei, Alexander K. Tagantsev, Alexander Kvasov, Krystian Roleder,
Chun-Lin Jia, Nava Setter;
Nature Communications 5 (2014), Article number: 3031, published online: 8 January 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4031

Further information:

Peter Grünberg Institute – Microstructure Research (PGI-5)
http://www.fz-juelich.de/pgi/pgi-5/EN/Home/home_node.html;jsessionid=
1F824736AB46A1D3B6D3912D22C8FCE4
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL – Ceramics Laboratory
http://lc.epfl.ch/
Ernst Ruska-Centre (ER-C)
http://www.er-c.org/centre/centre.htm
Contact:
Dr. Xiankui Wei, Peter Grünberg Institute
- Microstructure Research (PGI-5) and Ernst Ruska-Centre (ER-C),
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
Tel. +49 2461 61-9338, E-Mail: x.wei@fz-juelich.de or xiankui.wei@epfl.ch
Press contact:
Angela Wenzik, Science Journalist, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
Tel. +49 2461 61-6048, E-Mail: a.wenzik@fz-juelich.de

Angela Wenzik | Forschungszentrum Jülich
Further information:
http://www.fz-juelich.de

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht The Flexible Grid Involves its Users
27.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Optical fiber transmits one terabit per second – Novel modulation approach
16.09.2016 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells

27.09.2016 | Life Sciences

Nanotechnology for energy materials: Electrodes like leaf veins

27.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

‘Missing link’ found in the development of bioelectronic medicines

27.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>