A new way to store big data in a very small space potentially using much less energy than is currently possible

via Phys.org

via Phys.org

A new way to store big data in a very small space potentially using much less energy than is currently possible

New study reveals a zoo of magnetic patterns at the atomic scale

Atomic-scale magnetic patterns resembling a hedgehog’s spikes could result in hard disks with massively larger capacities than today’s devices, a new study suggests. The finding could help data centers keep up with the exponentially increasing demand for video and cloud data storage.

In a study published today in the journal Science, researchers at The Ohio State University used a magnetic microscope to visualize the patterns, formed in thin films of an unusual magnetic material, manganese germanide. Unlike familiar magnets such as iron, the magnetism in this material follows helices, similar to the structure of DNA. This leads to a new zoo of magnetic patterns with names such as hedgehogs, anti-hedgehogs, skyrmions and merons that can be much smaller than today’s magnetic bits.

These new magnetic patterns could be used for next-generation data storage,” said Jay Gupta, senior author of the study and a professor of physics at Ohio State. “The density of storage in hard disks is approaching its limits, related to how small you can make the magnetic bits that allow for that storage. And that’s motivated us to look for new materials, where we might be able to make the magnetic bits much smaller.”

To visualize the magnetic patterns, Gupta and his team used a scanning tunneling microscope in his lab, modified with special tips. This microscope provides pictures of the magnetic patterns with atomic resolution. Their images revealed that in certain parts of the sample, the magnetism at the surface was twisted into a pattern resembling the spikes of a hedgehog. However, in this case the “body” of the hedgehog is only 10 nanometers wide, which is much smaller than today’s magnetic bits (about 50 nanometers), and nearly impossible to visualize. By comparison, a single human hair is about 80,000 nanometers thick.

The research team also found that the hedgehog patterns could be shifted on the surface with electric currents, or inverted with magnetic fields. This foreshadows the reading and writing of magnetic data, potentially using much less energy than currently possible.

“There is enormous potential for these magnetic patterns to allow data storage to be more energy efficient,” Gupta said, though he cautions that there is more research to do before the material could be put into use on a data storage site. “We have a huge amount of fundamental science still to do about understanding these magnetic patterns and improving how we control them. But this is a very exciting step.”

 

See Also
(a) Illustration of the data-writing process of the DNA movable-type storage system. For the data-writing process, high-throughput automation equipment is employed to select the desired DNA movable types and assemble them into corresponding storage units with a length of 408 bp. (b) The overall workflow of the data-writing and -reading processes of the DNA movable-type storage system. (c) Diagram of the ordered assembly of DNA movable types. By selectively digesting either with BbsI or BsaI, the representative DNA movable types A and B can be assembled in a desired order (A-B or B-A) using T4 ligase. Blue and grey areas indicate the data encoding regions. (d) Structure of the DNA movable types. The blue area in the middle stands for the data-encoding region; the two orange modules are helper fragments, which are two randomly generated sequences for improving the ligation efficiency. The two primer binding sets represented by black dotted boxes include two restriction enzyme sites of BbsI and BsaI, respectively. All the DNA movable types have a 6 bp data-encoding region and an overall length of 120 bp. There are 4096 possible sequence combinations for all 6 bp regions, yielding a total of 4096 unique pre-manufactured DNA movable types (a longer data-encoding region can also be applied, in which case the overall number of DNA movable types required to be pre-manufactured will be correspondingly enlarged).

Original Article: Magnetic ‘hedgehogs’ could store big data in a small space

More from: Ohio State University 

 

 

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