Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Beating the back-up blues

Abstract:
That sinking feeling when your hard disk starts screeching and you haven't backed up your holiday photos is a step closer to becoming a thing of the past thanks to research into a new kind of computer memory.

Beating the back-up blues

Leeds, England | Posted on April 6th, 2009

Physicists at the University of Leeds and scientists at IBM Research's Zurich lab have made new advances in researching a new kind of memory, called ‘racetrack' memory, which could become the standard method of storing information on home computers.

Your hard drive is a metal disc made up of millions of tiny spaces, called domains, in which all the atoms are magnetised in one direction or the other to represent binary data. Much like a record player, the disc spins around until the ‘head' finds and reads the information.

Racetrack memory, a concept invented by Stuart Parkin at IBM Research's Almaden Lab, has no moving parts - instead it is the information which moves. Using a kind of physics called spin transfer, scientists use electrons (in the form of electrical current) to switch the magnetism of the domains, pushing them to a different location along a nanowire.

Recently published in Physical Review Letters, the new research holds up a magnifying glass to how tiny magnetic devices behave. Using a special electron microscope that can ‘see' magnetism, scientists imaged a wall between two domains that lies in a notch in the side of the wire. This site, called a pinning centre, is where information starts and stops on its journey along the wire.

The researchers were then able to measure the current that was needed to blow the wall out of differently shaped notches.

The aim is to be able to reduce the current, and hence power, needed to move the information along the wire.

"The reason why the hard disk on your computer is likely to break is because it has moving parts which eventually wear out, but the racetrack method of storing information is much more reliable as all the parts are static," says Dr Chris Marrows, reader in condensed matter physics at the University of Leeds.

Compared with flash memory - the kind of solid state memory you find in flash drives and iPods - racetrack memory's huge advantage is on price. It is estimated that a racetrack memory in a computer would be 100 times cheaper per bit than flash.

"Magnetic racetrack memory is designed to replace the hard disk, and it's estimated that it could compete on price since it's very dense - it can store lots of bits of data on a small area of chip, as the information is stored in vertical towers," says Dr Marrows.

As well as being more reliable than hard disks, racetrack memory is also faster. There are no ‘seek' times when the head has to search the disk for information, so computers would be able to boot up almost instantly.

The next stage for the team is to develop better materials from which to make the racetrack components. A fully working race track memory is anticipated to be available within 10 years.

This research has been funded by the European Science Foundation and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK, and has been published in the April issue of Physical Review Letters.

Notes to editors

Dr Christopher Marrows is a reader in condensed matter physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds.

An animation demonstrating how racetrack memory works has been produced by IBM and is available as a youtube video, here www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIjK1dMdTGY

For more information about IBM Research, please visit www.research.ibm.com

####

About University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK with more than 30,000 students from 130 countries and a turnover of £450m. The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities and the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed it to be the UK’s eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University’s vision is to secure a place among the world’s top 50 by 2015. www.leeds.ac.uk

The School of Physics and Astronomy has a long and distinguished history dating back before the University's inception, over 100 years ago. It has over 30 members of academic staff including 10 professors, around 40 other postdoctoral staff and around 120 postgraduate students. There are typically 300 undergraduates on its degree programmes at any one time.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Further Information
Dr Christopher Marrows,
email:
tel: +44 (0)113 343 3780

Clare Ryan, University of Leeds press office,

tel: +44 (0)113 343 8059,
Out of hours: +44 (0)7976 929 746

Nicole Herfuth, Communications, IBM Research GmbH, Zurich Research Laboratory,

Tel: +41 44 724 8445

Copyright © University of Leeds

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Possible Futures

A novel method for identifying the body’s ‘noisiest’ networks November 19th, 2014

Researchers discern the shapes of high-order Brownian motions November 17th, 2014

VDMA Electronics Production Equipment: Growth track for 2014 and 2015 confirmed: Business climate survey shows robust industry sector November 14th, 2014

Open Materials Development Will Be Key for HP's Success in 3D Printing: HP can make a big splash in 3D printing, but it needs to shore up technology claims and avoid the temptation of the razor/razor blade business model in order to flourish November 11th, 2014

Spintronics

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

'Giant' charge density disturbances discovered in nanomaterials: Juelich researchers amplify Friedel oscillations in thin metallic films November 26th, 2014

Researchers create & control spin waves, lifting prospects for enhanced info processing November 17th, 2014

Memory Technology

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

Stanford team combines logic, memory to build a 'high-rise' chip: Today circuit cards are laid out like single-story towns; Futuristic architecture builds layers of logic and memory into skyscraper chips that would be smaller, faster, cheaper -- and taller December 15th, 2014

Graphene layer reads optical information from nanodiamonds electronically: Possible read head for quantum computers December 1st, 2014

Announcements

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE