At the Advanced Light Source, Berkeley Lab scientists join an international team to control spin orientation in magnetic nanodisks
May 21, 2013
Paul Preuss 510-486-6249 firstname.lastname@example.org
‘We spent 15 percent of home energy on gadgets in 2009, and we’re buying more gadgets all the time,’ says Peter Fischer of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Fischer lets you know right away that while it’s scientific curiosity that inspires his research at the Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), he intends it to help solve pressing problems.
The electron spins in a magnetic vortex all point in parallel, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Spins in the crowded core of the vortex must point out of the plane, either up or down. The four orientations of circularity and polarity could form the cells of multibit magnetic storage and processing systems.
‘What we’re working on now could make these gadgets perform hundreds of times better and also be a hundred times more energy efficient,’ says Fischer, a staff scientist in the Materials Sciences Division. As a principal investigator at the Center for X-Ray Optics, he leads ALS beamline 6.1.2, where he specializes in studies of magnetism.
Fischer recently provided critical support to a team led by Vojtĕch Uhlíř of the Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic and the Center for Magnetic Recording Research at the University of California, San Diego. Researchers from both institutions and from Berkeley Lab used the unique capabilities of beamline 6.1.2 to advance a new concept in magnetic memory.
‘Magnetic memory is at the heart of most electronic devices,’ says Fischer, ‘and from the scientist’s point of view, magnetism is about controlling electron spin.’
Magnetic memories store bits of information in discrete units whose electron spins all line up in parallel, pointing one way or the opposite to signify a one or a zero. What Fischer and his colleagues propose is multibit storage in which each unit has four states instead of two and can store twice the information.
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