Hard disk storage capacity can be increased by twisting magnets!

Researchers collaborating from Japan, Russia and UK and working for “A consortium to Exploit Spin Chirality in Advanced Materials” have worked out a new way to increase the storage capacity of hard disks. They discovered that by experimentally verifying the properties of crystals of Chiral Magnetic materials, a new type of magnetic memory with unprecedented storage capacity can be achieved.

Magnetic materials with chiral crystalline structures, also known as chiral magnets (for example, CrNb3S6), show a unique magnetic twisting effect that is triggered by a weak external magnetic field. The material looks like it is composed of atomic-sized magnets arranged helically.

In Dec’15, researchers experimentally showed that the winding number of twists can be detected electrically, and controlled by changing the strength of the external magnetic field. They designed a tiny device about the size of a human cell from CrNb3S6 material, and observed that the electrical resistance takes a series of discrete values that change stepwise with change in the external magnetic field strength. It was also visually demonstrated by using electron microscopy that the change in the electrical resistance corresponds to the change in the twisting of the magnetic field in the material. Using the device, the researchers reported data of 20 discrete states and were successful in unambiguously detecting these states. Conventional electronic devices used as components in current electronic appliances handle information as binary data represented by a combination of “0” and “1”. In magnetic materials, these two states correspond to the orientations of the magnetic field, namely “up” and “down”.

Dr. Yoshihiko Togawa from Osaka Prefecture University, who is the leader of the research team, said, “For example, the capacity of a storage memory device composed of 10 such new element devices made from chiral magnets, each of which has 10 discrete states, will be 1010, which is about 10 million times larger than that of a conventional magnetic storage memory with the same number of conventional element devices.”

Now, the researchers are in an intention to implement the same in improving the storage technology of the current storage media.

Hard disks are one such media which have magnets in them and Dr. Yoshihiko is predicting that their further research on using twisted magnets technology can not only improve the storage capacity of the drives by a 1000 times, but also shrink them in size to that of a Solid state drives.

As of now, usage of magnets does not have much of importance in the work functions of hard drives, as only platters, and the read and write head do most of the jobs. But the research head claims that they have found a way to store data on magnets and read it when needed. If at all, this work attains success, then we may see small sized hard disk drives with huge data capacities in future.

Will this be a competitor to HAMR and Standard Perpendicular Magnetic Recording technology seen in hard drives. Only time will speak about it.

More details will be updated, when a white paper will be available to the media.


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