Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UAB physicists discover a new magnetic phenomenon that may improve RAM memories and the storage capacity of hard drives.


A team of scientists from the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with colleagues from the Argonne National Laboratory (USA) and the Spintec laboratory (Grenoble, France), has for the first time produced microscopic magnetic states, known as “displaced vortex states”, that will allow an increase in the size of MRAMs (which are not deleted when the computer is switched off). The research has been published in Physical Review Letters and Applied Physics Letters.

In the near future we will turn our computers on and they will be ready to work almost instantaneously; no longer will we have to wait a while for the operating system and certain programs to load into the RAM. At the moment, SRAM and DRAM do not allow this, as they are quick, but they are deleted when the computer is switched off (that is, they are “volatile”); Flash memories, which we use for digital cameras, are not deleted, but they are slow; MRAM, which is still being developed, is fast and non-volatile, but has a relatively low storage capacity. A team of scientists from the UAB Department of Physics, in collaboration with colleagues from the Argonne National Laboratory (USA) and the Spintec laboratory (Grenoble, France), have discovered a magnetic phenomenon that could be useful in the quest for the ideal type of memory: an MRAM with large storage capacity.

The “displaced vortex states”, first observed by UAB researchers, are small circular movements of just a few thousandths of a millimetre that form in the tiny zones where the data is stored. The information on hard drives has normally been saved by orientating these zones in specific directions. The zones pointing upwards, for example, codify a 1, and those pointing downwards a 0. The smaller and more compact these zones are, the greater the capacity of the hard drive. But if they are too close together, the magnetic field created by one can affect the neighbouring zone and wipe the data. However, if the field is saved in a whirlpool form, in “vortex state”, it does not leave the tiny zone to which it is confined and does not affect the neighbouring data, thus making it possible for a much larger hard drive capacity.

The scientists have achieved these “vortex states” on small, circular structures that are smaller than a micrometre (a thousandth of a millimetre) and combine layers of material with opposing magnetic properties: a layer of ferromagnetic material and a layer of antiferromagnetic material. What makes the configuration of the magnets observed by the UAB scientists new is that the vortex states are “displaced”, that is, once the magnetic field is no longer applied, the eye of the whirpool moves off-centre with regard to the circular structure on which it formed. This seemingly insignificant detail is the key to applying the technique to increasing the capacity not only of hard drives but also Magnetic Random Access Memories (MRAMs) that are fast, non-volatile, but until now with small storage capacity.

“The phenomenon observed could also be applied to other fields, such as improving the read heads of hard drives”, according to Jordi Sort, a UAB-ICREA physicist and the coordinator of the research. “But the reason that motivated us is even more fundamental: this is a very peculiar physical state that can be observed only in extremely small magnetic structures.”

Josep Nogués (ICREA researcher) and Maria Dolors Baró, of the UAB Department of Physics, also took part in the research, which was recently published in Physical Review Letters and Applied Physics Letters.

Octavi López Coronado | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>