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Prospective digital data storage devices predominantly rely on novel fundamental magnetic phenomena. The better we understand these phenomena, the better and more energy efficient the memory chips and hard drives we can build. Physicists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) have now completed the essential fundamental work for future storage devices: Using a creative approach of shaping magnetic thin films in curved architectures, they validated the presence of chiral responses in a commonly used magnetic material. This facilitates the creation of magnetic systems with desired properties that rely on simple geometrical transformations. The team has now presented their work in the journal Physical Review Letters.
We all know that our left hand is different from our right—a left glove won't fit your right hand and vice versa. Scientists use the term "chirality" to describe objects that do not align with their mirror image. Chemists, in particular, are familiar with this property in molecules, as in left- and right-rotating lactic acid. Humans metabolize the right-rotating variant more easily than its "mirror image."
Effects - Materials - Textures - Properties - Arrangement
Such chiral effects are known to occur in magnetic materials, where magnetic textures also have chiral properties: the arrangement of individual magnetic moments inside the material, or, figuratively speaking, the alignment of the many tiny "compass needles" that make up a magnet, could form right- and left-handed alignments. Under certain conditions, some textures behave like image and mirror image—a left-handed texture cannot be made congruent with its right-handed version.
The interesting aspect here is that "the two textures can present different magnetic behaviors," as HZDR physicist Dr. Denys Makarov points out. "To put it simply: a right-handed texture can be more energetically preferable than a left-handed texture. Since systems in nature tend to assume their lowest possible energetic state, the right-handed state is preferred." Such chiral effects hold...
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