The MAGicSky project is investigating the potential of nano-sized particle-like topological deformations, known as skyrmions, to revolutionise technologies for data storage and processing, making them more effective and energy-efficient.
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The volume of information produced by modern society is huge, and requires increasingly powerful and efficient information storage devices. Hard-disk drives (HDD), solid-state drives (SSD) and flash memory are currently used for data storage, and rely on the detection and movement of electron charges.
All such devices come with substantial limitations, including the slow speed of reading and writing information from a HDD; SSDs lack of durability; and their bulky size and greedy power consumption. The considerable slow-down in improvements to data-storage technology has led to calls for new, innovative and efficient data-storage devices.
The EU-funded project MAGicSky is investigating whether magnetic skyrmions could have a role to play here. Magnetic skyrmions are configurations of spins in certain ferromagnetic materials that are stable for long periods of time without the need for specific control. They can carry information and are robust against structural defects because of their magnetic nature. This means they are particularly stable and their size just a few nanometres makes them good candidates for information carriers.
The MAGicSky consortium believes that it is possible to create and shape skyrmions with magnetic and electric fields at room temperature in controlled environments. This means that for particular combinations of the control parameters, the magnetic skirmions can be stabilised and manipulated. In the context of data storage, each skyrmion can be considered as carrying one bit of data. Unlike the conventional storage devices and electron-based systems we use now, the new magnetic skyrmion devices will use low-density electric current and will not require any mechanical moving parts.