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Saving data in vortex structures
Date:2/21/2012

This release is available in German.

Three years ago Professor Christian Pfleiderer and his team from the physics department at the TUM discovered an entirely new magnetic structure in a silicon manganese crystal a grid of magnetic eddies. Together with the team of Professor Achim Rosch from the University of Cologne, he studied the properties of these eddies, so-called skyrmions, named after the British physicist Tony Skyrme, who predicted their existence 50 years ago. They were expecting results in the field of so-called spintronics, nano-electric components that utilize not only the electric charge of electrons for processing information, but also their magnetic momentum, known as spin.

While Peter Grnberg and Albert Fert received the Nobel Prize in 2007 for work on significantly faster data readout, research today concentrates on the question of how magnetic information can be written directly to materials via electric current. However, the extremely strong electric currents required produce side effects, which are practically untamable, even in nano-structures. Since skyrmions can be moved with 100,000 times less current, interest has been aroused in both the scientific community and in industry.

Although magnetic eddies were discovered in silicon manganese it was clear that it would not remain the only material capable of generating skyrmions. This has turned out to be true. Meanwhile, Japanese researchers have proven that individual eddies can be generated, and a group of physicists from the Research Center Jlich, as well as the Universities of Hamburg and Kiel, provided evidence that magnetic eddies can be generated on surfaces. They managed to build a data bit out of only 15 atoms. By way of comparison, a magnetic bit on a common hard drive requires about one million atoms.

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Contact: Dr. Andreas Battenberg
battenberg@zv.tum.de
49-892-891-0510
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert  

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