Nav: Home

Physicists create prototype superefficient memory for future computers

May 15, 2019

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and their colleagues from Germany and the Netherlands have achieved material magnetization switching on the shortest timescales, at a minimal energy cost. They have thus developed a prototype of energy-efficient data storage devices. The paper was published in the journal Nature.

The rapid development of information technology calls for data storage devices controlled by quantum mechanisms without energy losses. Maintaining data centers consumes over 3% of the power generated worldwide, and this figure is growing. While writing and reading information is a bottleneck for IT development, the fundamental laws of nature actually do not prohibit the existence of fast and energy-efficient data storage.

The most reliable way of storing data is to encode it as binary zeros and ones, which correspond to the orientations of the microscopic magnets, known as spins, in magnetic materials. This is how a computer hard drive stores information. To switch a bit between its two basic states, it is remagnetized via a magnetic field pulse. However, this operation requires much time and energy.

Back in 2016, Sebastian Baierl from the University of Regensburg in Germany, Anatoly Zvezdin from MIPT in Russia, Alexey Kimel from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands and Russian Technological University MIREA, along with other colleagues, proposed a way for rapid spin switching in thulium orthoferrite via T-rays. Their technique for remagnetizing memory bits proved faster and more efficient than using magnetic field pulses. This effect stems from a special connection between spin states and the electrical component of a T-ray pulse.

"The idea was to use the previously discovered spin switching mechanism as an instrument for efficiently driving spins out of equilibrium and studying the fundamental limitations on the speed and energy cost of writing information. Our research focused on the so-called fingerprints of the mechanism with the maximum possible speed and minimum energy dissipation," commented study co-author Professor Alexey Kimel of Radboud University Nijmegen and MIREA.

In this study, we exposed spin states to specially tuned T-pulses. Their characteristic photon energies are on the order of the energy barrier between the spin states. The pulses last picoseconds, which corresponds to one light oscillation cycle. The team used a specially developed structure comprised by micrometer-sized gold antennas deposited on a thulium orthoferrite sample.

As a result, the researchers spotted the characteristic spectral signatures indicating successful spin switching with only the minimal energy losses imposed by the fundamental laws of thermodynamics. For the first time, a spin switch was complete in a mere 3 picoseconds and with almost no energy dissipation. This shows the enormous potential of magnetism for addressing the crucial problems in information technology. According to the researchers, their experimental findings agree with theoretical model predictions.

"The rare earth materials, which provided the basis for this discovery, are currently experiencing a sort of a renaissance," said Professor Anatoly Zvezdin, who heads the Magnetic Heterostructures and Spintronics Lab at MIPT. "Their fundamental properties were studied half a century ago, with major contributions by Russian physicists, MSU and MIPT alumni. This is an excellent example of how fundamental research finds its way into practice decades after it was completed."

The joint work of several research teams has led to the creation of a structure that is a promising prototype of future data storage devices. Such devices would be compact and capable of transferring data within picoseconds. Fitting this storage with antennas will make it compatible with on-chip T-ray sources."

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Related Technology Articles:

The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).
AI technology could help protect water supplies
Progress on new artificial intelligence (AI) technology could make monitoring at water treatment plants cheaper and easier and help safeguard public health.
Transformative technology
UC Davis neuroscientists have developed fluorescence sensors that are opening a new era for the optical recording of dopamine activity in the living brain.
Do the elderly want technology to help them take their medication?
Over 65s say they would find technology to help them take their medications helpful, but need the technology to be familiar, accessible and easy to use, according to research by Queen Mary University of London and University of Cambridge.
Technology detecting RNase activity
A KAIST research team of Professor Hyun Gyu Park at Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering developed a new technology to detect the activity of RNase H, a RNA degrading enzyme.
Taking technology to the next level
Physicists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) developed a new hybrid integrated platform, promising to be a more advanced alternative to conventional integrated circuits.
How technology use affects at-risk adolescents
More use of technology led to increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems over time for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, a new study from Duke University finds.
Hold-up in ventures for technology transfer
The transfer of technology brings ideas closer to commercialization. The transformation happens in several steps, such as invention, innovation, building prototypes, production, market introduction, market expansion, after sales services.
The ultimate green technology
Imagine patterning and visualizing silicon at the atomic level, something which, if done successfully, will revolutionize the quantum and classical computing industry.
New technology detects COPD in minutes
Pioneering research by Professor Paul Lewis of Swansea University's Medical School into one of the most common lung diseases in the UK, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, has led to the development of a new technology that can quickly and easily diagnose and monitor the condition.
More Technology News and Technology Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.