Physicists use antiferromagnetic rust for Faster and Efficient Information Transfer
Modern research is increasingly data-based and interactive in nature. Large-scale simulations and tools generate data petabytes, which are then processed by tens of thousands of scientists around the world.
Whether it’s smartphones, tablets, or mainframes: the delivery, retrieval, and storing of knowledge is actually focused on a common type of material – like it was over 60 years earlier in the early days of computer science. However, a new class of magnetic materials may bring information technology to a new standard. Antiferromagnetic insulators allow processing speeds that are 1,000 times faster than traditional electronics, with far less heating. Components should be stacked closely together and logical modules could also be smaller, which has so far been limited due to the increased heating of current components.
Physicists use antiferromagnetic rust to carry information over long distances at room temperature. Antiferromagnetic insulators enable computing speeds that are a thousand times faster than conventional electronics, with significantly less heating.
Information transfer at room temperature
So far the issue has been that the conversion of information to antiferromagnetic insulators has only operated at low temperatures. So who needs to put their smartphones in the freezer so that they can use them? Physicists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have now been able to eradicate this shortcoming, along with experimentalists from CNRS/Thales Lab, CEA Grenoble and the National High Field Laboratory in France, as well as theorists from the Centre for Quantum Spintronics (QuSpin) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “We have been able to transmit and process information in a standard antiferromagnetic insulator at room temperature – and to do so over a sufficient distance to allow information processing to take place,” said JGU scientist Andrew Ross. Researchers used iron oxide (5-007-Fe2O3), the main component of rust, as an antiferromagnetic insulator, since iron oxide is widespread and simple to produce.
The transfer of knowledge in magnetic insulators is made possible by magnetic order excitations known as magnets. They travel like waves across magnetic surfaces, similar to how waves move through the water surface of a pond after a stone has been dropped into it. Previously, it was assumed that these waves would have circular polarization in order to relay information effectively. Such circular polarization occurs in iron oxide only at low temperatures. However, the multinational study team was able to transfer magnesium over extremely long distances, including at room temperature. But how did it work? “We discovered that in single-plane antiferromagnets, two linear polarization magnets would overlap and migrate together. They complement each other to form an essentially spherical polarization,” explained Dr. Romain Lebrun, a researcher at the CNRS/Thales Joint Laboratory in Paris who formerly worked in Mainz. “The possibility of using iron oxide at room temperature makes it an ideal playground for the development of ultra-fast spintronic devices based on antiferromagnetic insulators.”
Extremely low attenuation allows for energy-efficient transmission
A significant problem in the process of knowledge transmission is how easily information is lost as it passes through magnetic materials. With the value of the magnetic damping, this can be recorded quantitatively. “The iron oxide examined has one of the lowest magnetic attenuations ever reported in magnetic materials,” said Professor Mathias Kläui of the JGU Institute of Physics. “We expect that high magnetic field approaches can demonstrate that other antiferromagnetic materials have similarly low attenuation, which is critical to the creation of a new generation of spintronic devices. We are exploring such low-power magnetic technology in a long-term partnership with our colleagues at QuSpin in Norway, and I am delighted to see that this collaboration has created another exciting piece of work.”
Over the years, the ubiquitous redistribution of data and sharing of digital material have raised ethical and legal problems. File transfer protection is also a crucial concern. Data breaches and unsuccessful transitions can have an effect on the bottom line and the credibility of the company. According to a survey by IBM Security and the Poneman Institute, the average cost of infringement data in 2018 was $3.86 million. Estimated cost for any lost or stolen record: $148.