Researchers want to revolutionize the way computer hard drives store data. Tiny magnetic vortices are supposed to make the difference.

The way in which computers can store information has changed fundamentally in recent years. At first we backed up our data on floppy disks and hard disks that worked on the basis of magnets.

Computers now also store information using electrical voltage. Quantum computers are also playing an increasingly important role. But researchers do not lose sight of existing approaches.

Scientists from the National Institute for Energy in the United States have now developed a new method of recording data quickly and sustainably with magnets.

However, instead of using large and old-fashioned bar magnets, they use microscopic magnet vortices. A single one of these vortices has a diameter of a billionth of a meter.

Magnetic vortices are said to increase the capacity of hard drives

The researchers used a simple example to explain why the technology has potential. Accordingly, classic storage systems that work on the basis of bar magnets are not very safe. Storage can be compared to tying a shoe. A little force is then enough to loosen the knot and delete the data.

The small magnetic vortices, on the other hand, resemble a double knot. No matter how hard you pull on the ends: the knot cannot be untied. Another advantage is that data cannot be stored mechanically, but by changing the temperature or voltage. Namely, the small vortices change their structure based on the ambient temperature.

Store information in an energy-saving manner

At a temperature of about minus 69 degrees Celsius, the vortices arrange themselves. At around minus 169 degrees Celsius, however, the structure is chaotic. The order within the vortices thus reflects the data. At the same time, the technology could be better for the environment.

Because today’s storage solutions in supercomputers require a lot of energy. The researchers say their approach is around 100 to 1,000 times more efficient than existing technologies. Perhaps large tech companies will soon be using magnetic vortices to secure information in the long term and in an energy-saving manner.

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