Next-generation data storage could be made of perovskite

Materials World magazine
4 Jan 2017

A modified perovskite photovoltaic material could be used to create high-capacity data storage devices. 

A new perovskite material for potential use in the next generation of data storage systems has been developed by a group of scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. Headed by postdoctoral researcher Bálint Náfrádi and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the NCCR-MARVEL and the European Research Council, the team has developed a modified perovskite photovoltaic. 

The magnetic structure of a material cannot be reversed or changed without altering the structure of the electrons in its makeup. However, the magnetic structure of this new material can be changed, in quadrillionths of a second, without damaging it with heat. This easy modification of magnetic properties works as an advantage in magnetic data storage systems. Having both the features of ferromagnets and photoconductors means its magnetic properties are defined and ordered but can also be altered using light. Náfrádi describes the new material as a ‘magnetic photoconductor’. 

Shining a red LED onto the material disrupts the magnetic order and a high density of free conduction electrons is created. Alterations to the concentration of light can control this. The speed and ease with which this can occur means the new perovskite material can be used to build higher capacity memory storage systems, requiring less energy to run. Náfrádi claims that, ‘This study provides the basis for the development of a new generation of magneto-optical data storage devices. These would combine the advantages of magnetic storage – long-term stability, high data density, non-volatile operation and re-writability – with the speed of optical writing and reading.’ Contributions to the research were made by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, France, and the University of Geneva, Switzerland. The study is published in Nature Communications.

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