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Whirlpools on the Nanoscale Could Multiply Magnetic Memory Print
Tuesday, 21 May 2013 00:00

Research at the Advanced Light Source may lead to four-bit magnetic cells housed on nanoscale metal disks, instead of the two-bit magnetic domains of standard magnetic memories. In magnetic vortices, parallel electron spins point either clockwise or counterclockwise, while in their crowded centers the spins point either down or up. “From the scientist’s point of view, magnetism is about controlling electron spin,” says Peter Fischer of the Materials Sciences Division, who leads the work at beamline 6.1.2. Four orientations could provide multibits in a new kind of memory. The next step is to control the states independently and simultaneously.

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Magnetic transmission soft x-ray microscopy shows the reverse of spin circularity in magnetic vortices in a row of nanodisks, after applying a 1.5 nanosecond pulse of magnetic field. The change from left to right is not a change in lighting, as it may appear, but is instead due to changing magnetic contrast.