Speeding up data storage by a thousand times with ‘spin current’

An artist impression of a laser pulse changing a magnetic bit

An artist impression of a laser pulse changing a magnetic bit

The storage capacity of hard drives is increasing explosively, but the speed with which all that data can be written has reached its limits.

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and the FOM Foundation present a promising new technology which potentially allows data to be stored 1,000 times as fast in Nature Communications on 10 July. The technology, in which ultra-short laser pulses generate a ‘spin current’, also opens the way to future optical computer chips.

A thousand times faster

“The change in the magnetization is of the order of 100 femtoseconds, which is a factor 1,000 faster than what is possible with today’s technology”, says Schellekens. As well as that, the researchers were able to describe the physical processes that are involved in detail. “There was discussion among physicists about whether the generated spin current is actually able to cause the change in magnetization. We now definitely show that this is really the case”, says Schellekens.

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