• March 2012
    M T W T F S S

CU and NIST Scientists Reveal Inner Workings of Magnets, a Finding That Could Lead to Faster Computers.

University of Colorado (03/14/12) Margaret Murnane

 Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) used specialized X-ray lasers to reveal the inner workings of magnets, a breakthrough they say could lead to faster and smarter computers.  Using a light source that creates X-ray pulses one quadrillionth of a second in length, the researchers were able to observe how magnetism in nickel and iron atoms works, and found that each metal behaves differently.  “The discovery that iron and nickel are fundamentally different in their interaction with light at ultrafast time scales suggests that the magnetic alloys in hard drives could be engineered to enhance the delivery of the optical energy to the spin system,” says NIST’s Tom Silva.  The researchers found that different kinds of magnetic spins in metal scramble on different time scales.  “What we have seen for the first time is that the iron spins and the nickel spins react to light in different ways, with the iron spins being mixed up by light much more readily than the nickel spins,” Silva says.  The discovery could help researchers develop a magnetic system optimized for maximum disk drive performance.


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