Next-Gen Data Storage with the Use of New and More Efficient Materials

April 21, 2020 by Luke James

Researchers at the University of Houston report a new compound that is capable of achieving skyrmion state at room temperature while under pressure.

Skyrmion materials hold promise due to the extremely low current that is required to modify the spin configurations and the small size of magnetic domains. To make their theoretical applications a reality, researchers are currently changed with breaking the magnetic field-temperature phase space restriction for the skyrmion state. 

Now, in research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the University of Houston have described how the temperature region for the skyrmion phase in bulk Cu2OSeO3 (the chiral skyrmion material) can be enhanced under physical pressure.

According to the research team, this makes its applications more practical and could pave the way for its use in next-generation data storage and processor devices that are more efficient. 


Maintaining Skyrmion Properties at Room Temperature

The research team, led by physicist Paul Ching-Wu Chu, also reports that the team created a new compound that is capable of maintaining its skyrmion properties at room temperature through the use of high pressure.

Working with a copper oxyselenide compound, Chu claims that his research team was able to expand the temperature range at which the skyrmion state exists up to 300 K (80 F), or near room temperature.


Successful Testing Results 

The state was successfully detected at room temperature for the first time under 8 GPa of pressure by using a technique the team had developed in-house. The researchers also report that they found that the copper oxyselenide compound undergoes different structural-phase transitions as pressure is increased, suggesting that the skyrmion state occurs more frequently than previously thought. 

"Our results suggest the insensitivity of the skyrmions to the underlying crystal lattices. More skyrmion material may be found in other compounds, as well." Chu said.


Researchers Liangzi Deng and Paul Chu from the University of Houston.

Researchers Liangzi Deng (left) and Paul Chu from the University of Houston. Members of the team that discovered a new compound for use in next-generation data storage. Image used courtesy of the University of Houston

Promising Candidates for High-Density Data Storage

A skyrmion’s properties make it a promising candidate for high-density information storage. It is a point-like region of reversed magnetization that is surrounding by a whirling twist of spins. Its small regions, along with the fact that they can be moved with very little electrical current, are what makes it so promising.

By using copper oxyselenide, Chu and his team managed to overcome a challenge that has prevented its use in this and other applications—the fact that the skyrmion state normally only exists at a low and narrow temperature range of around 55K to 58.5 K, a temperature at which its use is impractical. 

Chu also believes that the pressure required to maintain the skyrmion state could be replicated chemically. This would enable it to work under ambient pressure, an important requirement for many commercial applications.