Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new magnetic phenomenon may improve RAM memories and the storage capacity of hard drives

03.03.2006



The application of ’displaced vortex states’ - small magnetic circular movements of just a few thousandths of a millimetre - may accelerate the arrival of a new type of magnetic memory (MRAM) that does not disappear when a computer is switched off

A team of scientists from 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."

Octavi Lopez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uab.es

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>