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New Perovskite With Unique Properties May Herald Next-Generation Hard Drives

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A new perovskite material with unique properties that are ideal for building futuristic hard drives has been developed.

Scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne of Lausanne in Switzerland made this discovery. The new material has the properties of a magnetic photoconductor, making it good for making next-generation hard drives where writing and accessing data.

More details of the study have been published in Nature Communications.

Leading the project is Bálint Náfrádi, who synthesized the ferromagnetic photovoltaic material.

"We have essentially discovered the first magnetic photoconductor," said Náfrádi.

Unique Structural Properties

Perovskite is basically a calcium titanium oxide mineral made of calcium titanate with a magnetic order that can be altered without applying any heat. Perovskite photovoltaics are already ahead as cost-effective alternatives to the existing silicon systems.

The newly developed organometallic substance, which contains lead and manganese, has a crystal structure that combines properties of both photoconductors - where free conduction electrons of high intensity are generated with light illumination - and ferromagnets, whose magnetic moments, or the measure of their tendency to align with a magnetic field, come in a defined order.

By combining photoconductivity and ferromagnetism together in one material, the scientists were able to trigger photo-electrons that "melt" the magnetic structures within the crystal.

The combination resulted in the low-energy melting of magnetization, a new phenomenon that shows promise in the development of next-gen hard drives capable of high-capacity storage.

Magnetic Storage Benefits

Náfrádi claimed that the study offers the basis for developing a new generation of magneto-optical data storage devices.  

The lead researcher said the new material offers a great combo of magnetic storage benefits such as long-term stability, non-volatile operation, high data density and rewritability at the speed of optical writing.

Magnetism emanates from the interactions of localized and moving electrons, implying that the magnetic state in a material remains wired in an irreversible fashion.

The new perovskite material scores over others in terms of ease in disrupting the magnetic order. A simple red LED pointer is enough to generate highly dense yet traveling electrons that can be tuned by changing the intensity of light.

Data Explosion

The perovskite material will be joining the crowd of many new materials that make storage systems including hard drives. This follows the explosion of data and the need for enhanced magnetic properties for storage.

The sought-after materials are those whose magnetic properties can be manipulated to write and access data at a fast speed - such materials require only nanoseconds in shuffling their magnetic fields.

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