TU / e combines light and magnetism for storage

Jan

11

2019

Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology have succeeded in describing magnetic racetrack memory with short light pulses. The method works quickly and is energy efficient, according to the scientists.

According to them, the method that the researchers have demonstrated has great potential for use in future photonic computer chips. The description of bits could be a hundred to a thousand times faster than current hard disks, so they are in prospect. Because less electronics is needed, the technology could also become more energy-efficient.

The basis of the invention lies in the use of ultrashort light pulses to determine the direction of the magnetization and thus write bits on a material. This form of optical switching has been applied for about ten years, but until now requires multiple light pulses instead of a single one to switch a magnetic pole, which is at the expense of speed and energy consumption.

The Eindhoven researchers used synthetic ferrimagnets as material. With this they succeeded in switching a magnetic pole with a single light pulse from a femtosecond laser. This kind of lasers emit very short pulses with a duration of a few to hundreds of femtoseconds.

The team combined the laser with so-called race track memory. This type of memory works with small magnetic domains that move along a reading and writing mechanism to be read and manipulated. In the Eindhoven system, the bits are transported by means of an electrical current through a magnetic micro wire, whereby the laser can lightly describe new bits in the empty places.

“This ‘on the fly’ copying of information between light and magnetic racetracks, without intermediate electronic steps, is like jumping back and forth between two moving high-speed trains, instead of having to switch to a station”, says TU / e- Professor Bert Koopmans. For practical application in computer chips, the researchers must reduce the micro wires to nanowires and develop a method for reading.

The research team, consisting of PhD student Mark Lalieu, Reinoud Lavrijsen and Koopmans, published the work under the name Integrating optical switching with spintronics in Nature Communications.

TU Eindhoven & # 8216; Integrating optical switching with spintronics & # 8217;

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