A joint research project made by three research and academic institutions in Japan have finally given positive confirmation that next-generation magnetic storage devices can finally be designed and made using skyrmions.

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A skyrmion can be broadly defined as a tiny magnetic vortex/pattern that is naturally present in certain elements and materials. Independent Japanese research institution RIKEN, along with Tokyo University Graduate School of Engineering, and Aoyama Gakuin University Department of Physics and Mathematics proved the feasibility of using these skyrmions to store and generate information, primarily with the use of electric current within its very small enclosed space. In general the research centered on simulations that made use of differential equations based on the skyrmions’ change in magnetic structure over a period of time. One of the things they discovered was that indeed, skyrmions can be formed using very, very tiny electric currents, with corresponding values that could be made similar to on and off states of digital electronics.

The announcement supports the previous research recently done by German researchers, which showed the skyrmion’s existence, as well as its potential in consumer electronics. The announcement has therefore finally confirmed the feasibility of future storage devices that would work using these tiny magnetic vortices.

Moore’s law states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every 18 months (or two years).  So far, this has been true for a few decades, as we witness the exponential growth in computers as they get smaller and more efficient.  There is however, one ultimate limit and dead end to this law, which would be reached (in about 10 to 20 years) as electronic devices get nearer and nearer at the atomic level.

Simulated formation of a skyrmion.

Simulated formation of a skyrmion.

With skyrmions however, new data storage devices could be made even smaller and denser, breaking the physical limit of current electronic devices. Since a skyrmion has been shown to relatively require little energy to manipulate (change its spin/”value”), it is also theorized that it could store information using a lot less power than standard magnetic storage devices, further increasing its comparative efficiency.

The research now currently heads forward into creating a prototype skyrmion-based device or circuit. They plan on developing a 100-nanometer long material that could enclose a “functional” skyrmion at room temperature.

Source: MyNavi (JP), RIKEN (JP)