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Discovery May Lead to Significantly More Efficient Method of Data Storage

UNL News (04/06/12) Jean Jones

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) researchers say they have discovered a more efficient method of data storage that could lead to new generations of technology.  The key to the research is the scanning probe microscopy technique, which is based on exerting highly localized mechanical, electrical, or magnetic influence on an object by using a tiny physical probe and measuring the object’s response.  The tip of the probe can scan a surface and offer researchers feedback.  The probe also can be used to electrically change the local properties of ferroelectric materials.  By applying an electric potential to the probe, a nanoscale-sized bit of electrical information can be stored in the ferroelectric material, a principle that is central to data storage and similar to hard disk drives.  “It’s a completely voltage-free switching of polarization, which is what makes the results of this research unique,” says UNL’s Alexei Gruverman.  He notes the research opens up a new way to store data much more densely than has been possible before.  The researchers hope to build on this discovery by investigating possible applications.

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