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Swirly Skyrmions Could Be the Future of Data Storage

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Diagram showing annihilation or creation of a single magnetic skyrmion.

Researchers at France's CNRS/Thales lab are moving toward commercializing skyrmion-based magnetic data storage.

Credit: Unit Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales/Campus de Polytechnique

Researchers at France's CNRS/Thales lab, a joint laboratory of industrial company Thales and the French National Center for Scientific Research, are moving toward commercializing skyrmion-based magnetic data storage by electrically detecting for the first time a single skyrmion at room temperature.

CNRS' Vincent Cros says these signals are so tiny that the team had to be sure the measured electrical signal is really associated with the presence of a skyrmion. "That is exactly what we demonstrate here by a concomitant electrical measurement and magnetic imaging on the very same devices," Cros notes.

His team suggests a "racetrack memory" would be the optimal technology. "We have employed a new approach in which we inject short current pulses into the materials, which allows us to create isolated skyrmions located in a strip [or track] designed by electron-beam lithography," Cros says. This enables the adjustment of the total nucleated skyrmions by tuning different parameters, such as the current pulse width or the intensity of the external magnetic field.

From IEEE Spectrum
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