Magnetic memories, a new highly efficient system by Italian research
A new generation of highly efficient memory devices with energy consumption over a thousand times lower than the current one. This new path could be opened by an experiment reported in Nature Communications, carried out by the Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste research centre of Area Science Park by an international team including researchers of the National Research Council and the Polytechnic University of Milano.
Currently, data storage on memory devices, such as computer hard disks, is done by a small electromagnet that magnetizes the surface of the disk. A long, energy-consuming process that does not allow to achieve high miniaturization.
Conversely, with this new system, magnetization can be turned on or off in response to the application of an electric field, in a reversible way and at room temperature. This was shown by this experiment that exploited the matching of materials with ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties.
The system is made of two layers of material, one of iron and the other of barium titanium oxide that, when overlapping, react by forming a very thin layer of iron oxide in the interface area. By analysing the sample at spectroscopy with the Elettra synchrotron light, it was possible to observe that the degree of magnetization of the interface varies according to the electric field applied on the oxide layer. Besides being highly efficient in terms of energy saving, the tested device is also cost-saving, since the two layers of material needed to make this system are easily accessible and inexpensive.