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Magnetic nanoparticle research could bring higher capacity memories

Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Institut Catala de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia have created what they say is a new behaviour in magnetic nanoparticles and believe this could lead to the creation of smaller, higher capacity digital memories.

The team says it has been able to reproduce, in particles measuring 10 to 20nm, antiferromagnetic coupling between layers. This property forms an important part of data reading systems found in hard drives and in other memories.

"We've been able to reproduce a magnetic behaviour not previously observed in nanoparticles and this paves the way for miniaturisation up to limits which seemed impossible for magnetic storage and other more sophisticated applications, such as spin filters, magnetic codifiers and multi level recording," said Josep Nogués, ICREA research professor, and Maria Dolors Baró, professor of Applied Physics.

Antiferromagnetic coupling, which appears between layers of materials with different magnetic properties, allows the magnetic behaviour of the whole device to be controlled.

The research team used iron oxide particles surrounded by a thin layer of manganese oxide and vice versa. The discovery is said to provide 'unprecedented control' of the magnetic behaviour of nanoparticles, allowing properties to be controlled and adjusted without having to manipulate their shape or composition.

Graham Pitcher

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