(ScienceDaily) Using nanoscale quantum sensors, physicists from Switzerland, Germany and Ukraine have proposed an innovative new data storage medium. The technique is based on specific properties of antiferromagnetic materials that had previously resisted experimental examination. The project was coordinated by researchers from the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel.
Antiferromagnets make up 90 percent of all magnetically ordered materials. Unlike ferromagnets such as iron, in which the magnetic moments of the atoms are oriented parallel to each other, the orientation of the magnetic moments in antiferromagnets alternates between neighboring atoms. As a result of the cancelation of the alternating magnetic moments, antiferromagnetic materials appear non-magnetic and do not generate an external magnetic field.
Antiferromagnets hold great promise for exciting applications in data processing, as the orientation of their magnetic moment — in contrast to the ferromagnets used in conventional storage media — cannot be accidentally overwritten by magnetic fields. In recent years, this potential has given rise to the budding research field of antiferromagnetic spintronics, which is the focus of numerous research groups around the world.
Antiferromagnets hold great promise for exciting applications in data processing, as the orientation of their magnetic moment — in contrast to the ferromagnets used in conventional storage media — cannot be accidentally overwritten by magnetic fields. In recent years, this potential has given rise to the budding research field of antiferromagnetic spintronics, which is the focus of numerous research groups around the world.

0