Researchers found a way to control magnetization switching in magnetic data storage systems using electric fields.
Data storage in digital systems consumes a significant amount of energy. Especially the magnetic data storage systems in large data centers consume high energy, and reduction of this consumption is a challenge. In magnetic data storage systems, information is stored through a specific alignment of magnetization in microscopic areas. The direction of magnetization is dictated by electric currents or local magnetic fields generated by micro coils. Using this approach, the electric current leads to energy loss by Joule heating.
A research team lead by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and with participation of Prof. Karin Leistner and Dr. Jonas Zehner from the Professorship of Electrochemical Sensors and Energy Storage at the Institute of Chemistry at Chemnitz University of Technology demonstrates 180 degree magnetization reversal by voltage-induced hydrogen loading into ferrimagnets. The results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
180 degree magnetization reversal using electric fields is quite difficult to achieve, but it reduces the energy consumption of data storage devices drastically. 180° magnetization switching is important because the magnetization in the individual bits is usually opposed by 180°. Researchers believe that this study has the potential to open a pathway to dramatically reduced global power consumption of data storage.
For voltage-controlled magnetization switching, the research team took advantage of the specific properties of ferrimagnets as they offer a multi-sublattice configuration with sublattice magnetizations of different magnitudes opposing each other. To achieve 180° magnetization reversal without external magnetic fields, the researchers functionalized the GdCo/Pd/GdOx-layer structure with an additional antiferromagnetic nickel oxide (NiO) layer.