Could Manipulated Magnets Change the Face of Computer Storage?

Research at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has discovered a magnetic breakthrough that might revolutionize the computer storage industry forever. Geoffrey Beach and a team of researchers have published a paper detailing the effect of flipping polarity in the wrong direction against the flow of electronic using magnetic films. The phenomenon was considered bizarre and a fluke in the past, but with the publication of this new paper, storage technology could be transformed. If the findings of this research are honed and considered to be viable for manufacturers to turn into products, the next decade or so could see a seismic change in the computer storage industry.

Storage media such as hard disk drives are based entirely on arrangements of magnets. Positive and negative alignments of magnetics within a magnetic domain help to create the ones and zeros which feature in every piece of data stored on every hard drive in the world. Beach has discovered that when a film of ferromagnetic material was placed onto platinum and exposed to a current, it presented the reverse magnetic pole. Switching the platinum for tantalum changed the poles back to normal. With most materials, the direction of pole changes is random and can change over an extended period of time. With thin, film-like materials like the ones used in this experiment, the pole can be changed by force, using currents and certain other materials, including platinum and tantalum.

The discovery means that small amounts of power can now be applied to change spin orientation of magnets very efficiently; if it is manufactured into a viable computer storage solution, it will be around 10,000 times more energy-efficient than hard disk drives currently are.

The thin ferromagnetic films could eventually be used to provide low-energy storage for both HDD and SSDs. The future of mobile phones would change dramatically, as the power savings manufacturers could now install would mean incredibly long battery life. Notebooks and ultrabooks would be enhanced beyond their already extensive portable capabilities and manufacturers would be releasing entirely new models incorporating this new energy-efficient technology into all of their new lines.

Just a few short years ago, the control of magnetic domains like this was an unthinkable prospect for many scientists and researchers; for many it seemed a science-fiction-esque premise. But Geoffrey Beach and his team suggest that these films and the way they manipulate magnetic fields and pole orientation could be working their way onto the consumer market in just a few more years.

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