Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers use skyrmions to store information

09.08.2013
On the cover of "Science": Magnetic nano-knots for data storage

Physicists of the University of Hamburg, Germany, managed for the first time to individually write and delete single skyrmions, a knot-like magnetic entity. Such vortex-shaped magnetic structures exhibit unique properties which make them promising candidates for future data storage devices.


Figure 1: A skyrmion can be imagined as a two-dimensional magnetic knot, in which the magnetic moments are rotating with unique rotational sense by 360° within a plane. The image shows data from a spin-resolved scanning tunneling microscopy experiment together with a sketch of the sample magnetization.

Group of R. Wiesendanger, University of Hamburg

Skyrmions have been in the focus of active research for the last years; however, up to now these states have been merely investigated, a controlled manipulation has not been achieved. Now this has been realized by scientists from the group of Prof. Roland Wiesendanger in Hamburg, Germany: as Science Magazine reports online on 08th of August 2013, the creation and annihilation of single skyrmions, corresponding to writing and deleting of information on a storage medium, has been demonstrated by these researchers.

This work solves one of the longstanding technical problems concerning the future use of skyrmions in information technology.

Future electronic devices are expected to become smaller while increasing their data storage capacities at the same time. This will soon bring classical storage technologies to their physical limits. In conventional memory devices used up to now, magnetic bits consist of many atoms with their magnetic moments aligned parallel to each other like bar magnets. Pointing in defined directions, they can represent the values “1” and “0” which are the basis for information technology. With the continuing miniaturization, the interaction between neighboring bits increases due to magnetic stray fields which can lead to loss of data. In addition, small magnetic bits are less stable against thermal fluctuations which is also called the superparamagnetic limit.

Using more “robust” magnetic structures like skyrmions could be a way out of this technological dead end. These structures can be imagined as a two-dimensional knot in which the magnetic moments are rotating about 360° in a plane with a unique rotational sense (see Fig. 1). These particle-like magnetic knots can be assigned a kind of charge, the topological charge. With this it is possible to assign the bit states “1” and “0” to the existence or non-existence of a skyrmion.

A clever choice of temperature and external magnetic field enabled the scientists of the group of Prof. Roland Wiesendanger to prepare and manipulate single magnetic skyrmions for the first time. They used a two atomic layer thick film of palladium and iron on an iridium crystal. In an external magnetic field this sample exhibits single localized skyrmions with a diameter of a few nanometers that can be imaged in a spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscope. Using small currents from the tip of the microscope these skyrmions can be written and deleted. For the creation the previously parallel magnetic moments are twisted to form a knot-like magnetic state, and for the deletion this knot is unwound again.

„We finally found a magnetic system in which we can locally switch between ordinary ferromagnetic order and a complex spin configuration“, says Dr. Kirsten von Bergmann, senior scientist in the Wiesendanger group. As published in the current issue of the Science Magazine, four skyrmions were specifically addressed and could be created and annihilated (Fig. 1). “We transferred the idea of tying a knot to memorize something to the field of storage technology so we can now store data in a two-dimensional magnetic knot”, explains Ph.D. student Niklas Romming.

Whether skyrmions will be used as data storage units in our computers, tablets, or smartphones, is not foreseeable. The experimentally accomplished writing and deleting of skyrmions, however, has demonstrated the feasibility of this technology and paved the way towards a realization of such devices.

Original publication:
Writing and Deleting Single Magnetic Skyrmions,
N. Romming, C. Hanneken, M. Menzel, J. E. Bickel, B. Wolter, K. von Bergmann, A. Kubetzka, and R. Wiesendanger

Science (2013).

Further questions:
Dipl.-Chem. Heiko Fuchs
DFG-Collaborative Research Center 668 and
ERC Advanced Grant Group "FURORE"
Institute of Applied Physics
University of Hamburg
Jungiusstr. 9a
20355 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: +49 - 40 - 42838 - 69 59
e-mail: hfuchs@physnet.uni-hamburg.de

Heiko Fuchs | idw
Further information:
http://www.nanocience.de
http://www.sfb668.de
http://www.nanoscience.de/furore

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

nachricht New survey hints at exotic origin for the Cold Spot
26.04.2017 | Royal Astronomical Society

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

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...

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

Millions through license revenues

27.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today

27.04.2017 | Information Technology

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>