What are MAGNETS – Spirals and Vortices

The Strongest Magnet in the World



SKYRMIONS – Magnetic Vortices

Skyrmions, named for Tony Skyrme who predicted them 50 years ago, are magnetic vortices in a material. The magnetic moment of atoms and electrons in a crystal can wrap around each other into a swirl shape and researchers have been probing their properties since they were observed in materials. The hope is to use such a material for storing digital data in these formations.

A key reason why researchers are looking into skyrmions is the ease with which they can be moved. Compared to the typical magnetically stored bit in hard drives today, a skyrmion can be moved with 100,000 times less current. That is a drastic saving in energy. Also, the size of skyrmions can be quite small, and possibly allow for much larger capacities. Already a team of Japanese researchers have created a data bit out of 15 atoms using skyrmions (the 12-atom record set last month still holds), but this requires extremely cold temperatures.

Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have recently found a better means to write and read data stored in skyrmions. Previously when the researchers were working in their lab they would have to walk over to the FRM II lab to use the neutron source. A neutron radiation scanner was the only means to accurately study the vortices, but the researchers have now found they can directly measure the movement of the skyrmions with their own electronic equipment. This is a major step to creating a data storage device based on skyrmions, but first a material that can have skyrmions at room temperature has to be found.


New physical phenomenon could drastically reduce energy consumption by computers:
Saving data in vortex structures


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