A new mechanism for the magnetic storage of information in a simple atom It has been discovered by researchers at Radboud University. His study has been published in Nature Communications.
The question that the study leader wanted to clarify, Brian KiralyIt was how can we store information in a single atom and with what stability can we keep that information?
Smallest unit of matter
The findings made in his study are explained by these words the microscopic scanning microscopy professor Alexander Khajetoorians:
What defines a permanent magnet is that it has a north pole and a south pole, which remains in the same orientation, but when it reaches a single atom, the north and south pole of the atom begin to turn and do not know in which direction they should aim, as they become extremely sensitive to their surroundings. If it is desired that a magnetic atom contains information, it cannot be turned. For the past ten years, researchers have been asking: For the atom to stop moving, how many atoms are needed to stabilize the magnet and how long can it contain information before turning? In the past two years, scientists in Lausanne and IBM Almaden have discovered how to keep the atom stable, making a single atom can be a memory base. To do this, the researchers had to use very low temperatures, 40 Kelvin or -233 degrees Celsius. This technology is limited to extremely low temperatures.
But in the aforementioned study a new way of storing information within cobalt atoms was found, which avoid conventional problems with instability. The electrons in an atom orbit around the nucleus, but also "spin" themselves. Its angular momentum is what provides magnetism. What has been done is a way to create an energy difference between some of the orbitals of the cobalt atom and use the angular orbital moment for our atomic memory:
In the end, it is still a magnet with an angular momentum, but now we can control the atom from state 0 to 1, which has a much higher stability than other magnets.