Tiny magnetic vortices allow you to store data much more
Hardware

Tiny magnetic vortices allow you to store data much more efficiently than today’s HDDs and SSDs

Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory progress in learning such magnetic phenomena as microscopic magnetic vortices or skyrmions. These are stable magnetic excitations in materials that could replace traditional hard disk magnetic recording and MRAM memory in the future. In contrast to ordinary magnetization, skyrmions are more difficult to destroy, which promises increased recording security. But that’s not all.

    Image source: Argonne

Image source: Argonne

The structure and possibility of the formation of magnetic vortex structures was predicted by British theoretical physicist Tony Skyrme about 60 years ago. Later these magnetic vortices got his name. These are topologically stable magnetic formations that can be excited in magnetic films and their state can then be read out. Compared to classic magnets (magnetization), skyrmions promise data storage that is three to four orders of magnitude more energy-efficient, and they do not require electricity to maintain the magnetization state.

At the moment, skyrmions are still the subject of early research, although scientists already have a rough understanding of how to create memory cells based on them. Scientists from the Argorn Lab use a combination of electron microscope and artificial intelligence. The algorithm was taught to detect skyrmions in layers of material cooled to ultra-low temperatures. It turned out that the more the material is cooled, the less likely it is that the skyrmions will survive. At a temperature of -168 °C, the skyrmions practically disappeared, while warming to -50 °C restored the magnetic structure.

    Bright spots are skyrmion order zones, and the colder the material, the less order.

easy points these are order zones of skyrmions and the colder the material, the less order

Scientists are confident that the reversibility of the transition from chaos to order and vice versa creates space for the invention of new efficient magnetic storage systems. Up to 25% of the energy generated on earth will soon be used for data storage. This is an unacceptable luxury. Computers need new and energy-efficient storage systems. Skyrmions are one of the promising candidates for this role, although they have yet to be studied and studied.

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Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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