Greek scientists from the University of Crete and the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH), in collaboration with U.S. scientists from Ames Research Center of NASA, have discovered a new way to create small magnets by using short laser light pulses. Thanks to quantum “games” with light, computers and other devices can become extremely quicker.
The discovery of the phenomenon that is called Quantum Femto-Magnetism was made by the University of Crete physics professor Ilias Perakis and his group in Greece, in co-operation with Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University physicist Jigang Wang and his team in the USA. It was published in the April 4 issue of the internationally well-known Nature magazine.
The new research opens the door to create devices that will function 1,000 times faster, with at least 10 terahertz (1012 hertz) memory speeds instead of 10 gigahertz (109 hertz) as it happens today.
The researchers demonstrated experimentally that a magnetic structure can be changed within quadrillionths of a second (femtosecond) by using ultra-short laser pulses. They observed a transition from anti-ferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering in colossal magneto-resistive materials, which are promising for use in next-generation RAM memory, hard disk, and logic devices, as reported in FORTH’s website. They were able to magnetize the material 1000 times faster than the fastest current magnetic memories.
“A challenge facing magnetic writing, reading, storing, and computing is speed. Technology demands that the speed of electronic devices must increase by several orders of magnitude. We showed that we can meet the challenge to make magnetic switches think ultrafast, in the femtosecond–quadrillionths of a second– range by using quantum ‘tricks’ with ultrashort laser pulses,” Perakis and Wang said.
The experiments were performed at Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University. The theory that interprets the experiments was developed at the University of Crete and the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser Foundation of FORTH in Greece.
“Our strategy and concept is to use all-optical quantum methods to achieve magnetic switching and to control magnetism. This lays the groundwork for seeking the ultimate switching speed and capabilities of CMR materials, a question that underlies the entire field of spin-electronics,” Perakis and Wang pointed out.
They added: “Our hope is that this means someday we will be able to create devices that can read and write information faster than ever before. The role of physics is to open new directions for technology. And our discovery of Quantum Femto-Magnetism may have just opened a new one.”