Super-dense magnetic memory

There’s a post on Technology Review’s blog about a paper on arXiv about a theoretical result in magnetic memories.

Current-day magnetic memory is already “nanotechnology” under the loose definition, involving 5-nanometer particles of cobalt (having about 50,000 atoms). The authors have shown that a single molecule consisting of a cobalt dimer sitting on top of a benzene ring would have a high enough magnetic anisotropy to store a bit magnetically.

cobalt top hat

(surprisingly enough, the cobalts prefer to stack up rather than so lie down flat on the carbon ring.)

Don’t expect this in your computer any time soon; the authors write:

Technological use would require to solve at least three additional
problems: fabrication of large regular arrays; protection against oxidation without reducing
the anisotropy; new read/write technologies. Let us finally discuss a possible method to
solve the latter problem. Conventional write technology makes use of magnetic fields B in
the order of 1 T, Ref. 2. It would fail in the present situation, where a field B = MAE/µs of
several hundred tesla would be needed.

But they then go on to show that the bit could be written (reading is relatively easy) by a scanning-probe like tip which briefly ionized the upper cobalt. The mechanisms to do that would of course still have to be designed and built; but this is exploratory engineering in atomically-precise mechanisms, and we’d like to see more of it.

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