Computer files that allow us to watch videos, store pictures, and edit all kinds of media formats are nothing else but streams of "0" and "1" digital data, that is, bits and bytes. Modern computing technology is based on our ability to write, store, and retrieve digital information as efficiently as possible. In a computer hard disk, this is achieved in practice by writing information on a thin magnetic layer, where magnetic domains pointing "up" represent a "1" and magnetic domains pointing down represent a "0".
The size of these magnetic domains has now reached a few tens of nanometers, allowing us to store a Terabyte of data in the space of just about 4 square centimeters. Miniaturization, however, has created numerous problems that physicists and engineers worldwide struggle to solve at the pace demanded by an ever-growing information technology industry. The process of writing information on tiny magnetic bits one by one, as fast as possible, and with little energy consumption, represents one of the biggest hurdles in this field.
As reported this week in Nature, a team of scientists from the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology, ICREA, and Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Mihai Miron, Kevin Garello, and Pietro Gambardella, in collaboration with Gilles Gaudin and colleagues working at SPINTEC in Grenoble, France, have discovered a new method to write magnetic data that fulfils all of these requirements.
Discovery of new magnetic data writing technique could lead to next generation computer memory
Ioan Mihai Miron1, Kevin Garello1, Gilles Gaudin2, Pierre-Jean Zermatten2, Marius V. Costache1, Stéphane Auffret2, Sebastien Bandiera2, Bernard Rodmacq2, Alain Schuhl2, and Pietro Gambardella1,3,4
1 Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (ICN-CIN2), E-08193 Barcelona, Spain
2 SPINTEC, UMR-8191, CEA/CNRS/UJF/GINP, INAC, F-38054 Grenoble, France
3 Departament de Física, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), E-08193 Barcelona, Spain
4 Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), E-08010 Barcelona, Spain
DOI: 10.1038/nature10309 On-line version: was Published Sunday 31 July at 18h00 GMT Paper version: will be published in Nature on 11 August 2011.
CATALAN INSTITUTE OF NANOTECHNOLOGY (ICN)
The Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (ICN) is a private foundation created in 2003 and forms part of CERCA, the Network of Research Centers launched by the Catalan Government as a key plank of the long-term strategy to foster the development of a knowledge-based economy. The ICN´s multicultural team of scientists, representing over 20 nationalities, aims to produce cutting-edge science and develop next-generation technologies by investigating the new properties of matter that arise from the fascinating behavior at the nanoscale.
Research is devoted on one side to the study and understanding of fundamental physical phenomena associated to state variables (electrons, spin, phonons, photons, plasmons, etc.), the investigation of new properties derived from tailored nanostructures, and the opening of new routes and fabrication processes for the conception of new nanodevices.
On the other side, researchers also explore the state of aggregation at the nanometric scale, the development of nanoproduction methods, synthesis, analysis, and manipulation of aggregates and structures of nanometric dimension, and the development of techniques for characterizing and manipulating nanostructures.
These lead to commercially relevant studies such as the functionalization of nanoparticles, the encapsulation of active agents, novel drugs and vaccines, new nanodevices and nanosensors, with applications in health, food, energy, environment, etc.
The Institute actively promotes collaboration among scientists from diverse areas of specialization (physics, chemistry, biology, engineering), and trains new generations of scientists, offering studentships, doctoral and post-doctoral positions.
More information: Institut Catala de Nanotecnologia Tel: +(34) 93 581 4408, Email: email@example.com, Web: www.icn.cat Communicacion Dept.: Ana de la Osa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Principal Researcher: Dr. Pietro Gambardella, ICREA Prof. and Physics Dep. Professor at Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), email@example.com