Researchers at CRANN and Trinity’s School of Physics have found that the new material can act as a super-fast magnetic switch.
When struck by successive ultra-short laser pulses, it indicates a “switching switch”
Expanding the capacity of the Internet
Switching between two states – 0 and 1 – is the basis of digital technology and the backbone of the Internet. Most of all the data we download is stored magnetically in huge data centers around the world connected to a fiber optic network.
Obstacles to further progress with the Internet are threefold, in particular the speed and power consumption of the semiconductor or magnetic switches that process and store our data and the capacity of the optical network to process them.
The new discovery of ultra-fast switching with laser light on mirror films of an alloy of manganese, ruthenium and gallium, known as MRG, can help with all three problems.
Not only does light offer a big speed advantage, but magnetic switches don’t need power to maintain their condition. More importantly, they now offer the prospect of fast domain multiplexing over time to the existing optical network, which can allow it to process ten times more data.
The science behind magnetic switching
Working at CRANN’s photonics lab, Trinity’s nanoscience research center, Dr. Chandrima Banerjee and Dr. Jean Besbas used ultrafast laser pulses lasting only one hundred femtoseconds (one ten thousand billionths of a second) to switch magnets. MRG thin films back and forth. The direction of magnetization may point to or outside the film.
With each subsequent laser pulse, it reverses sharply. It is estimated that each pulse instantly heats the electrons in the MRG by about 1000 degrees, which reverses its magnetization. The discovery of ultra-fast MRG switching has just been published in a leading international journal, Nature Communications.
Dr. Carsten Road, a senior fellow at the Group for Magnetism and Spin Electronics at Trinity School of Physics, suggests that the discovery simply marks the beginning of an exciting new field of research.
Dr Rhode said: “We have a lot of work to do to fully understand the behavior of atoms and electrons in solids, which is far from equilibrium on a femtosecond time scale. In particular, how can magnetism change so quickly until obeys the basic law of physics, which says that the angular momentum must be preserved? In the spirit of our spintronics team, we will now collect data from new experiments with a pulsed laser on MRG and other materials to better understand this dynamics and to connect the ultrafast optical response to electronic transport. We are planning experiments with ultrafast electronic pulses to test the hypothesis that the origin of the switching switch is purely thermal. ”
Next year, Chandrima will continue his work at the University of Haifa, Israel, with a group that can generate even shorter laser pulses. Trinity researchers, led by Carsten, are planning a new collaborative project with collaborators in the Netherlands, France, Norway and Switzerland aimed at proving the concept of ultrafast time channel multiplexing.
Ultra-fast laser-based data recording in storage devices
C. Banerjee et al. Single-pulse all-optical switching of gadolinium-free magnetization in the Mn2RuxGa ferromagnet, Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-020-18340-9
Provided by Trinity College Dublin
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