Light May Increase Magnetic Memory Speeds 1000 Times, Decrease Electricity Consumption

Internet searches, decade-old emails and on-demand video offerings help contribute to electricity consumption by America’s server farms and data centers amounting to more than 2 percent of the country’s annual total.

Those data centers—which operate millions of drives and hold massive amounts of digital data—use some 70 billion kilowatt hours per year of energy. One kWh is enough power to keep a smartphone charged for about a year. At an average cost of 10 cents per kWh, the annual cost of all that power is around $7 billion.

Now a method that can potentially reduce energy consumption in magnetic memory devices and improve their speeds is advancing at Purdue University. The method involves a combination of spintronic and photonic materials, where ultrashort laser pulses are employed to generate intense magnetic fields to manipulate the spin orientation of magnetic materials.

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