Scientists in Bonn and Berlin for the first time observed so-called ferrotoroidic domains. They were able to discern two different types, depending on magnetic spin direction. By manipulating such domains, which should be technically possible, one could store and process data much faster than with current computers.
The scientists report on their findings in Nature. The experiments were conducted at the Max Born Institute (MBI) for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy in Berlin, the analysis was done at Bonn University.
“Domains are of unparalleled technological importance as they are used for information storage and for electronic, magnetic and optical switches”, the scientists around leading author Bas van Aken write in Nature.
The head of the group, Manfred Fiebig, says: One could compare ferrotoroidic domains with roundabouts in, say, the UK and Germany where cars go around in clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.
By using an electric field, one could “read” the domains, thus using them in the same way as ferromagnetic domains on the surface of a hard-disc drive in a computer. “We are looking for a way to manipulate ferrotoroidic domains”, says Fiebig, “so that we can write and read data.”
The material they used is called Hübnerit (LiCoPO4). By using short pulse spectroscopy the scientists observed the ferrotoroidic domains in the material. Now the authors are looking for other materials with similar properties and for ways to manipulate the domains.
Van Aken, B. B., Rivera, J.-P., Schmid, H. & Fiebig, M.:Observation of ferrotoroidic domains; Nature 449, 702–705 (2007)
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