I don’t know about you, but I love escaping every now and then into a good sci-fi movie. Maybe a classic like Blade Runner or Star Wars. I love the idea of the technology used in sci-fi fiction; light sabers, hover cars etc. Who knows? Maybe one day we will be able to actually create such things. What about holographic digital data storage? Remember R2-D2 playing holographic messages in Star Wars? Well, the day when we can record messages in this manner maybe nearer than you think.
A team of scientific researchers, in joint collaboration, from the University of California, Russian Academy of Science and Riverside Bourns College of Engineering, have demonstrated a new kind of holographic memory device, which could provide extraordinary data storage capacity.
The new type of memory device uses a collective oscillation of spins in magnetic materials, known as spin waves, instead of the optical beams. Spin waves are advantageous because spin wave devices are compatible with conventional electronic devices and may operate at a much shorter wavelength than traditional optical devices, therefore allowing for smaller electronic devices that will have superior storage capacities. The experimental results obtained by the researchers, show it is possible to apply holographic techniques, usually developed in optics, to magnetic structures to produce something called a magnonic holographic memory device. This research combines the advantages of magnetic data storage with the wave-based information transfer.
Alexander Khitun, the lead researcher and a research professor at UC Riverside said, “The results open a new field of research, which may have tremendous impact on the development of new logic and memory devices,” said A paper, “Magnonic Holographic Memory.” (The three co-authors of the paper are: Frederick Gertz, a graduate student who works with Khitun at UC Riverside, and A. Kozhevnikov and Y. Filimonov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences). The submitted paper that describes the findings, has been submitted for publication in the journal Applied Physics Letters. (A copy of the paper can be found here).
The experiments outlined in the paper were conducted using a 2-bit magnonic holographic memory prototype device. A pair of magnets, which represent the memory elements, were aligned in different positions on the magnetic waveguides. Spin waves propagating through the waveguides were affected by the magnetic field produced by the magnets. When spin waves interference was applied in the experiments, a clear picture was produced and the researchers could recognize the magnetic states of the magnets. Khitun has been working for nearly a decade to develop a logic device that exploits spin waves. The majority of his initial research was focused on the improvement of spin wave-based logic circuits, like to the ones currently used in computers.
If this research continues, and I’m sure it will, the future applications of this technology are going to be huge, whether that be data storage devices for computers, or the means by which we communicate. Now all we need is someone to market R2 units and we are half way to a galaxy far, far away.
[Image via elespectador]