With a new technology called ‘spin current’, researchers have accelerated writing speeds on computer hard drives by 1,000 times.
The researchers used spin current to change the magnetisation instead of the ‘write head’ currently in use.
“The number of bits has been growing rapidly for many years, but the write speed has hardly increased. There is a need for a new data storage technology,” said Sjors Schellekens from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
A hard drive stores bits in the form of tiny magnetic domains. Setting the directions of the magnetic north and south poles of these domains is referred to as magnetisation.
Data is stored by changing the direction of the poles of the associated bits. At present this is done using a write head to create a local magnetic field, which makes a bit change direction.
The stronger the local magnetic field, the faster the switch takes place. But this is subject to a limit which has now almost been reached.
The physicists used ultra-fast laser pulses to generate a flow of electrons. The resulting ‘spin current’ changed the magnetic properties of the material.
“The change in the magnetisation is of the order of 100 femtoseconds, which is a factor 1,000 times faster than what is possible with today’s technology,” Schellekens added.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.