Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Honeycombs of magnets could lead to new type of computer processing: Imperial scientists take an important step in developing a material using nano-sized magnets that could lead to new electronic devices

Honeycomb shaped nano-magnet mesh
Honeycomb shaped nano-magnet mesh

Abstract:
Scientists have taken an important step forward in developing a new material using nano-sized magnets that could ultimately lead to new types of electronic devices, with greater processing capacity than is currently feasible, in a study published today in the journal Science.

Honeycombs of magnets could lead to new type of computer processing: Imperial scientists take an important step in developing a material using nano-sized magnets that could lead to new electronic devices

London, UK | Posted on March 31st, 2012

Many modern data storage devices, like hard disk drives, rely on the ability to manipulate the properties of tiny individual magnetic sections, but their overall design is limited by the way these magnetic 'domains' interact when they are close together.

Now, researchers from Imperial College London have demonstrated that a honeycomb pattern of nano-sized magnets, in a material known as spin ice, introduces competition between neighbouring magnets, and reduces the problems caused by these interactions by two-thirds. They have shown that large arrays of these nano-magnets can be used to store computable information. The arrays can then be read by measuring their electrical resistance.

The scientists have so far been able to 'read' and 'write' patterns in the magnetic fields, and a key challenge now is to develop a way to utilise these patterns to perform calculations, and to do so at room temperature. At the moment, they are working with the magnets at temperatures below minus 223C.

Research author Dr Will Branford and his team have been investigating how to manipulate the magnetic state of nano-structured spin ices using a magnetic field and how to read their state by measuring their electrical resistance. They found that at low temperatures (below minus 223oC) the magnetic bits act in a collective manner and arrange themselves into patterns. This changes their resistance to an electrical current so that if one is passed through the material, this produces a characteristic measurement that the scientists can identify.

The scientists have so far been able to 'read' and 'write' patterns at room temperature. However, at the moment the collective behaviour is only seen at temperatures below minus 223oC. A key challenge now is to develop a way to utilise these patterns to perform calculations, and to do so at room temperature.

Current technology uses one magnetic domain to store a single bit of information. The new finding suggests that a cluster of many domains could be used to solve a complex computational problem in a single calculation. Computation of this type is known as a neural network, and is more similar to how our brains work than to the way in which traditional computers process information.

Dr Branford, who is an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, said: "Electronics manufacturers are trying all the time to squeeze more data into the same devices, or the same data into a tinier space for handheld devices like smart phones and mobile computers. However, the innate interaction between magnets has so far limited what they can do. In some new types of memory, manufacturers try to avoid the limitations of magnetism by avoiding using magnets altogether, using things like ferroelectric (flash) memory, memristors or antiferromagnets instead. However, these solutions are slow, expensive or hard to read out. Our philosophy is to harness the magnetic interactions, making them work in our favour."

Although today's research represents a key step forward, the researchers say there are many hurdles to overcome before scientists will be able to create prototype devices based on this technique such as developing an algorithm to control the computation. The nature of this algorithm will determine whether the room temperature state can be used or if the low temperature collective behaviour is required. However, they are optimistic that if these challenges can be tackled successfully, new technology using magnetic honeycombs might be available in ten to fifteen years.

In experiments, Dr Branford applied an electrical current across a continuous honeycomb mesh, made from cobalt magnetic bars each 1 micrometer long and 100 nanometres wide, and covering an area 100 square micrometers (as pictured). A single unit of the honeycomb mesh is like three bar magnets meeting in the centre of a triangle. There is no way to arrange them without having either two north poles or two south poles touching and repelling each other, this is called a 'frustrated' magnetic system. In a single triangular unit there are six ways to arrange the magnets such that they have exactly the same level of frustration, and as you increase the number of triangular units in the honeycomb, the number of possible arrangements of magnets increases exponentially, increasing the complexity of possible patterns.

Previous studies have shown that external magnetic fields can cause the magnetic domain of each bar to change state. This in turn affects the interaction between that bar and its two neighbouring bars in the honeycomb, and it is this pattern of magnetic states that Dr Branford says could be computer data.

Dr Branford said: "The strong interaction between neighbouring magnets allows us to subtly affect how the patterns form across the honeycomb. This is something we can take advantage of to compute complex problems because many different outcomes are possible, and we can differentiate between them electronically. Our next big challenge is to make an array of nano-magnets that can be 'programmed' without using external magnetic fields."

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Simon Levey

44-020-759-46702

Copyright © Imperial College London

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 Links

Article in Science:

Dr Will Branford:

Department of Physics:

Faculty of Natural Sciences:

Related News Press

News and information

The relationship between charge density waves and superconductivity? It's complicated July 19th, 2018

Sirrus's Issued Patent Portfolio Continues To Accelerate July 18th, 2018

FEFU scientists reported on toxicity of carbon and silicon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers: Nanoparticles with a wide range of applying, including medicine, damage cells of microalgae Heterosigma akashivo badly. July 18th, 2018

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier: Rice U., Northwestern researchers make and test atom-thick boron's unique domains July 17th, 2018

Physics

A refined magnetic sense: Algorithms and hardware developed in the context of quantum computation are shown to be useful for quantum-enhanced sensing of magnetic fields July 2nd, 2018

Evidence for a new property of quantum matter revealed: Electrical dipole activity detected in a quantum material unlike any other tested June 11th, 2018

Theory gives free rein to superconductivity at room temperature May 28th, 2018

Scientists Pinpoint Energy Flowing Through Vibrations in Superconducting Crystals: Interactions between electrons and the atomic structure of high-temperature superconductors impacted by elusive and powerful vibrations May 4th, 2018

Chip Technology

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nanometrics to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on July 31, 2018 July 12th, 2018

Leti and Soitec Launch a New Substrate Innovation Center to Develop Engineered Substrate Solutions: Industry-inclusive hub promotes early collaboration and learning from substrate to system level July 11th, 2018

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Surpasses $2 Billion in Design Win Revenue on 22FDX Technology : With 50 client designs and growing, 22FDX proves its value as a cost-effective solution for power-sensitive applications July 9th, 2018

Memory Technology

Magnetic skyrmions: Not the only ones of their class: Jlich researchers discover a new type of magnetic particle-like object for data storage devices of the future June 28th, 2018

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

A powerful laser breakthrough: Lehigh research team demonstrates terahertz semiconductor laser with record-high output power May 2nd, 2018

Researchers develop nanoparticle films for high-density data storage: April 3rd, 2018

Discoveries

The relationship between charge density waves and superconductivity? It's complicated July 19th, 2018

FEFU scientists reported on toxicity of carbon and silicon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers: Nanoparticles with a wide range of applying, including medicine, damage cells of microalgae Heterosigma akashivo badly. July 18th, 2018

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier: Rice U., Northwestern researchers make and test atom-thick boron's unique domains July 17th, 2018

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Announcements

The relationship between charge density waves and superconductivity? It's complicated July 19th, 2018

Sirrus's Issued Patent Portfolio Continues To Accelerate July 18th, 2018

FEFU scientists reported on toxicity of carbon and silicon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers: Nanoparticles with a wide range of applying, including medicine, damage cells of microalgae Heterosigma akashivo badly. July 18th, 2018

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier: Rice U., Northwestern researchers make and test atom-thick boron's unique domains July 17th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project