Magnetic memories manipulated by voltage, not heat

Aug 29, 2011

In their search for smaller, faster information-storage devices, physicists have been exploring ways to encode magnetic data using electric fields. One advantage of this voltage-induced magnet control is that less power is needed to encode information than in a traditional system.

But earlier this year, researchers reported that a key of magnetization called coercivity is not controlled by voltage at all, but rather by an unfortunate byproduct of applying to a material – that is, by . (Coercivity is the tendency of a magnetic material to resist becoming demagnetized.)

To further explore whether voltage or heating is responsible for changes to a magnet's coercivity, scientists from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, tested three structures commonly used in magnetic memory experiments. Their verdict: It's not the heat. In a paper accepted for publication in the AIP's Journal of Applied Physics, the authors show that the voltage is directly controlling changes in the magnetic properties of all three of the tested materials.

For example, the researchers demonstrate that the effect can be turned on and off almost instantaneously, whereas the changes should lag if heat is the cause. This is a good thing for the field, since a system that produces too much heat would slow down the performance of any real-world device made from this technology.

Explore further: Team invents microscopic sonic screwdriver

More information: "Switchable voltage control of the magnetic coercive field via magnetoelectric effect" by Jing Wang et al. is published in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Related Stories

Half-a-loaf method can improve magnetic memories

Aug 24, 2010

Chinese scientists have shown that magnetic memory, logic and sensor cells can be made faster and more energy efficient by using an electric, not magnetic, field to flip the magnetization of the sensing layer only about halfway, ...

Towards the magnetic fridge

Apr 21, 2006

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a material that gives a whole new complexion to the term 'fridge magnet'. When this alloy is placed in a magnetic field, it gets colder. Karl Sandeman and his co-workers ...

Progress toward terabit-rate high-density recording

Sep 21, 2010

Research is closing in on the next-generation of ultra-high-density magneto-optical storage devices that could store more than 6,000 Terabits (6 petabits) of data, more than 70 times the contents of the entire U.S. Library ...

Fridge magnet transformed

Mar 11, 2011

The ubiquitous and unremarkable magnet, BaFe12O19, is manufactured in large volumes, has the simplest crystal structure in its class, and is often seen on refrigerator doors—but it is set for an inte ...

Recommended for you

Researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound

17 hours ago

Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) services and recently published by ...

How researchers listen for gravitational waves

May 28, 2015

A century ago, Albert Einstein postulated the existence of gravitational waves in his General Theory of Relativity. But until now, these distortions of space-time have remained stubbornly hidden from direct ...

What's fair?: New theory on income inequality

May 27, 2015

The increasing inequality in income and wealth in recent years, together with excessive pay packages of CEOs in the U.S. and abroad, is of growing concern, especially to policy makers. Income inequality was ...

Scientists one step closer to mimicking gamma-ray bursts

May 27, 2015

Using ever more energetic lasers, Lawrence Livermore researchers have produced a record high number of electron-positron pairs, opening exciting opportunities to study extreme astrophysical processes, such ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.