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Atomically Thin Magnetic Device Could Lead to New Memory Technologies

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The crystal structure of chromium triiodide (CrI3).

Researchers have successfully encoded information using magnets that are only a few layers of atoms in thickness.

Credit: Tiancheng Song

Researchers from the University of Washington, with colleagues from four other institutions, encoded information using magnets that are only a few layers of atoms in thickness,  a development that could transform cloud computing technologies and consumer electronics.

The breakthrough will enable higher-density data storage with improved energy efficiency.

The researchers used stacks of ultrathin materials to exert control over the flow of electrons based on the direction of their spins, with the electron "spins" being analogous to subatomic magnets.

Made of four sheets of chromium tri-iodide (CrI3), this is the thinnest system to date that can block electrons based on their spins while exerting control more than 10 times stronger than other methods.

By sandwiching two layers of CrI3 between conducting sheets of graphene, the team demonstrated that depending on how the spins are aligned, the electrons could flow freely or be mostly blocked. These configurations could serve as the bits in computing to encode information.

From University of Washington
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Abstracts Copyright © 2018 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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