Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecules on a string, and why size isn't the only thing that matters for data storage

16.09.2009
Physicists get a grip on slippery molecules, and learn how the shape of nanoscopic magnetic islands affect data storage

Molecules of hydrogen are difficult to steer with electric fields because of the symmetrical way that charges are distributed within them. But now researchers at ETH Zurich have found a clever technique to get a grip on the molecules. Their findings are reported in Physical Review Letters and highlighted in the September 14 issue of Physics (http://physics.aps.org).

Electric fields can easily manipulate electrically asymmetric molecules like water, but electric forces can't overcome thermal motions for highly symmetric molecules like H2. In the 1980s, researchers in search of a way to manipulate non-polar molecules proposed a trick: excite one of H2's two electrons into a high orbit, disrupting the molecule's symmetry. The far-flung electron feels the pull of the electric field and drags the rest of the molecule along, rendering H2 as manageable as a puppet on a string.

Now Stephen Hogan, Christian Seiler, and Frederic Merkt at ETH Zurich have made this idea reality by overcoming a key problem: an electron in an excited orbit usually reverts to its ground state long before researchers can take advantage of the molecule's maneuverability. They studied several excited orbits in detail, found the longest-lasting ones, and used lasers to select these special states from a group of hydrogen molecules. The newly manageable molecules could be slowed down and trapped for 50 microseconds, plenty of time for the team to study them in detail.

Size isn't the only thing that matters for data storage

Minute magnetic particles, whether bonded to plastic tape or coated onto a hard disk, are the basis of modern data storage. Information is encoded in the magnetic orientation of these nanoparticles, but particles can sometimes switch orientations spontaneously, which can potentially corrupt data. Now researchers from Lawrence Berkeley and Argonne National Laboratories report that this switching unfolds in a more complicated manner than was previously thought. Their work is published in Physical Review Letters and highlighted in the September 14 issue of Physics (http://physics.aps.org).

Scientists have long known that spin flipping becomes more likely as the size of a nanoparticle cluster dwindles. But Stefan Krause and his team discovered that this is not the end of the story. Flipping happens as a kind of chain reaction along a cluster, and the shape of a cluster can help or hinder this propagation. Manipulating the shape of a cluster and even inserting impurities can determine whether a switch is more or less likely to be triggered and propagate, potentially adding a new dimension of control to the design of magnetic devices.

Also in Physics this week:

Guenter Ahlers writes a Trends article in Physics (http://physics.aps.org) on how the unexplored details of convection could hold the key to understanding nature's most impressive phenomena, such as sunspots and patterns in the sun's photosphere.

About APS Physics

APS Physics (http://physics.aps.org) publishes expert written commentaries and highlights of papers appearing in the journals of the American Physical Society.

James Riordon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aps.org
http://physics.aps.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>