Our computers have multiple kinds of memory in them, including RAM, flash, and magnetic hard disks. Each of these memory technologies operate in different ways with distinct advantages and disadvantages, and researchers are continually working to devise better technologies to minimize those disadvantages. Now those at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a memory technology that does not rely on permanent magnetics, which could allow for smaller and more energy efficient memory.
Magnetism arises from a property of electrons called spin. When enough electrons have the same spin state, their individual magnetic fields combine to create the larger fields of magnets. By passing an electrical current through a chiral material, the researchers were able to selectively transfer electrons of a specific spin state to nano-layers or nanoparticles, magnetizing them. This technique makes permanent magnets unnecessary within a magnetic-based memory device, and could also allow the device to be miniaturized as the memory bits need only be a nanoparticle in size.
Potentially this technology could also operate with lower power requirements than traditional magnetic memory. That property combined with the miniaturization may allow for high density memory devices to be built directly into computer chips.