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Magnetic properties of new nanoporous material for data storage, attracts attention

With around 90% of the worlds data generated in the last two years alone, there is a pressing need for more efficient data storage and transfer. The EU-funded SPIN-PORICS nanocomposite prototype may have a solution. Electronic devices which store information through magnetisation rely on magnetic switching, typically enabled by localised magnetic fields (generated via electromagnetic induction) or by spin-polarised electric currents (spin-transfer torque). However, both systems require relatively high electric currents which heat up materials, resulting in significant energy loss through heat dissipation - the so-called Joule effect. Energy efficiency could be increased if the necessary magnetic fields and electric currents could be reduced. This is achievable by lowering the coersivity (the ability to withstand an external magnetic field without becoming demagnetised) of the actuated material. Recent advances in this area have only reported significant success below 300 Kelvin and only with ultra-thin films or nanoparticles. However, the EU-funded SPIN-PORICS project recently announced the successful creation of a new material with sponge-like properties, with promise to advances efforts. The SPIN-PORICS (Merging Nanoporous Materials with Energy-Efficient Spintronics) project team reported in the journal Advanced Functional Materials that they had created the first prototypes of nanoporous magnetic memories, based on copper and nickel alloys (CuNi). The interior of these CuNi films were organised like a sponge, with only 5 or 10 nanometres spaces between pores, limiting space in the pore walls to a few dozen atoms. This nanoporous layer was filled with a dielectric material, where the magnetic properties were tuned at room temperature (RT) by using liquid electrolytes to apply voltage. The project team reported being able to achieve a 35% reduction of magnetic coercivity, meeting the energy consumption required to reorientate the magnetic domains which is necessary for data recording. This result is due to the nanoporous design which enables the whole film - not only the surface - to participate in the electromagnetic effect. Summarising the success of the prototype project coordinator Professor Jordi Sort has said, ‘The nanopores found on the inside of nanoporous materials offer a great amount of surface. With this vast surface concentrated in a very small space we can apply the voltage of a battery and enormously reduce the energy needed to orientate the magnetic domains and record data. This represents a new paradigm in the energy saving of computers and in computing and handling magnetic data in general’”

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