Magnetic Memory Speeds 1000X Increase With Light

Researchers are developing a novel technique that may help magnetic memory systems use less energy and operate more quickly. The technique combines spintronic and photonic materials to manipulate the spin orientation of magnetic materials and uses ultrashort laser pulses to produce strong magnetic fields. They have developed a novel magneto-photonics effort to use light to control magnetization processes for various applications, leading to extremely quick switchable devices. The researchers claimed they were among the first to effectively create a technique for on-chip nanomagnet switching using all-optical switching in high-density memory modules.

This cutting-edge technology uses plasmons, or collective electron waves, produced when light hits a material at the nanoscale, like metal, that can support the electron waves. These plasmons produce powerful, ultra-short magnetic fields at the intersection of carefully selected optical and magnetic elements. It is possible to manipulate the magnetic orientation in the magnetic material, a crucial prerequisite for magnetic information storage, by altering the characteristics of the incident light. It causes the direction of the resulting magnetic field to be reversed.

The Purdue team’s technique includes coupling light to nanomagnets using optical properties known as localized surface plasmon resonances to produce faster spintronic device switching speeds and possibly lower energy consumption. The main idea behind computationally encoding information in magnetic memory devices is switching the magnetization orientation made possible by the light.

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