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Next-Generation Information Storage Materials – Antiferromagnetic Materials

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Due to constant technological updates, conventional electronics based on silicon are rapidly approaching their limits, for example in terms of physical properties. Spintronics as well as antiferromagnetic materials are alternative solutions, which can store twice as much information in the same space.

Currently, more and more information needs to be stored, but the end devices are getting smaller and smaller. In addition, due to constant technological updates, conventional electronics based on silicon are rapidly approaching their limits, for example, the limits of physical properties, such as the number of bits or electrons needed to store information. Spintronics as well as antiferromagnetic materials are alternative solutions. They can be used not only to store information electrons but also their spins both contain electromagnetic information. In this way, twice as much information can be stored in the same space.

Researchers at the University of Mainz have discovered that it is possible to store information in antiferromagnetic materials and to evaluate the efficiency of their writing operations.

Antiferromagnetism is a magnetic property of a material in which the magnetic moments are antiparallel and staggered and ordered, but do not exhibit macroscopically strong net magnetic moments; this state of magnetic ordering is called antiferromagnetism. Inside antiferromagnetic substances, the spins of adjacent valence electrons tend to be in opposite directions, and the net magnetic moment of these substances is zero, and no magnetic field is generated. Substances with antiferromagnetism are relatively uncommon and most exist only at low temperatures. Substances with antiferromagnetism include chromium, manganese, light lanthanides, etc.

Recently, researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Tohoku University Sendai, Japan, have collaborated to confirm that it is feasible to store information using antiferromagnetic materials, “We were able to show not only that storing information in antiferromagnetic materials is basically feasible, but also to effectively evaluate the efficiency of writing electronic information into insulating antiferromagnetic materials.” said Dr. Lorenzo Baldrati, a researcher in Prof. Mathias Kläui’s group at JGU. To perform the evaluation, the researchers used antiferromagnetic insulating cobalt oxide (CoO) – a model material that could help bring the application down to earth. The results showed that controlling the antiferromagnetic material by the current is more efficient than a magnetic field.

This finding extends the application areas of antiferromagnets, from smart cards that cannot be demagnetized with external magnetic fields to ultrafast computers – all thanks to the superior performance of antiferromagnets over ferromagnets. The research paper was recently published in Physical Review Letters. In the future, the JGU researchers also want to investigate how fast information can be stored and how “small” the memory can be written.

Magnetic materials have long been used in various fields of life, such as electronics, automation, communications, home appliances, and many others, and advances in information storage, processing, and transmission have been made possible by the development of theoretical research and innovation in experimental methods for magnetic materials. Antiferromagnetism has been proposed for more than half a century, but its practical application has not been favored. Later on, the French physicist Albert Fehr and his research group discovered the giant magnetoresistance effect (GMR) in the iron-chromium superlattice film made of single-layer alternating iron and chromium films in 1988, which officially opened the research boom of spintronics.

Professor Mathias Kläui said that the University of Mainz and Tohoku University have been cooperating in the field of spintronics for a long time, and in the future, the two universities will establish the first joint degree and form an excellent international team for the emerging field of antiferromagnetic spintronics to work together on antiferromagnetic spintronics. ferromagnetism and spintronics technologies and their applications.

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