Electron pulses to manipulate nanomagnets for data storage

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Read/write ability using bursts of electrons, encoding topological energy structures robustly enough for potential data storage applications has been demonstrated by researchers from Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany.

These electron pulses are used to create and manipulate skyrmions – nanoscale magnetic excitations – acting as a topological magnet on certain microscopic surfaces. The precise properties, like spin orientation, of such nanomagnets can store information.

According to the group, the magnetisation of these ensemble excitations, or quasiparticles, is controlled by tailoring the profile of the electron pulses, varying either the total number of electrons or their width in space.

“The work shows how magnetisation of nanoscale magnets can be steered by intense ultrashort electron pulses,” said doctoral student Alexander Schäffer. “Here we show that tailored electron pulses can swiftly write, erase or switch topologically protected magnetic textures such as skyrmions.”

Not only are these magnetic excitations controllable, but their results are said to demonstrate potential for achieving similar topological charge transcription by way of laser pulses, whose lower and mass-free energy offer a number of practical benefits.

“These quasiparticles are robust against external perturbations, and hence are usually difficult to manipulate, and have a high potential for applications in data storage and computing,” Schäffer said.

“A second point was the finding that textures can be written with much lower beam intensity using tightly focused electron pulses.”

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