New Means to Write Magnetic Bits at Extremely Low Power
Magnetic data storage has been used in computers for a long time now, and the modern form of this technology, hard disk drives, are typically slower than solid state drives based on electronic flash memory. New approaches to magnetic storage however could succeed flash for speed and efficiency, such as that developed my MIT researchers.
One advantage to magnetic memory is that it can store data permanently, as is the case with HDDs, but magnetic fields are difficult to isolate and to flip at low power. Both of these issues will have to be overcome for magnetic data storage to take the performance crown, and that day me be sooner thanks to the MIT researchers. They discovered a way to stop magnetic domains travelling around 'racetrack memory' at 20 meters per second, and then flip their state by applying a voltage; not a magnetic field. The key to this was a highly ionized material resting between the memory and the electrodes. The material had its atoms stripped of its electrons, giving them an electric charge, so when the voltage is applied to the electrode above, the ions would be drawn to or repelled by it. This in turn can change the magnetic bit below the material.
Potentially this magneto-ionic design could lead to others, creating a new family of devices. Fortunately the materials used to create the current device are simple oxide materials already used in semiconductor manufacturing.