Jessica Vermeer
7 April 2020

Researchers at University of Twente’s Mesa+ institute have demonstrated the effect of temperature on the “spin memory loss” phenomenon in magnetic data storage. Magnetic data storage, which doesn’t depend on moving parts, has advantages in price and data retention. The results can help the materials and manufacturing industry in improving this type of data storage.

Current data centers use electronic memories such as solid-state drives (SSDs). An attractive option would be to combine electronics for writing and reading data, like in an SSD, and storing the data magnetically. However, the performance of magnetic storage depends on what happens at the interface of two materials: a conductor and a magnetic material. Electrons in the conductor not only carry charge but also a spin (clockwise or counterclockwise). The spin can be copied to the magnetic material. It locally flips the magnetic orientation, storing either a 1 or a 0.

UT magnetic data storage
Together with its charge, the spin of an electron (clockwise or counterclockwise rotation) is transported as well. This ‘spin current’ is copied to the magnetic material. Credit: University of Twente

“Spin memory loss”, losing spin at the interface, limits the applicability. Much research has been done on the subject, but most experiments were performed at very low temperatures. The new simulations by the UT show how moving towards room temperature makes a difference.

At rising temperatures, the atoms will vibrate more and the order in the crystal structure is affected. This directly has consequences for the interface between the conductor and the magnetic material, and thus for the transfer of spin information. Results show the importance of a ‘clean’ interface. Any mismatch will enhance spin memory loss.