Meet the skyrmions—exotic quasiparticles could revolutionise computing | 6/18/2018 | Staff
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Unique physical properties of these "magic knots" might help to satisfy demand for IT power and storage using a fraction of the energy.

For most of us, any concerns about computing speed or data storage are usually to make it go faster while storing more. We hardly ever think about the enormous amounts of energy already required to power Internet servers or charge the increasing number of devices we own. "The carbon footprint of computing, IT and the Internet is becoming enormous. It's about ten years since it became bigger than the carbon footprint of air travel," says Christopher Marrows, professor of condensed matter physics at the University of Leeds, UK.

Collaborators - MAGicSky - EU - Project - Physics

He is one of several collaborators on MAGicSky, an EU project that is grappling with the physics of unique "quasiparticles" called skyrmions, named after scientist Tony Skyrme who first theorised their existence in 1962. Due to their unique properties, skyrmions are smaller, and more stable and mobile than current computing and magnetic storage devices, making them a better basis for building the next generation of IT devices—plus the energy needed to power them is fractions of what we use now, from ten times less to potentially much more.

A skyrmion is a twist, or a knot, in an otherwise uniform magnetic field that creates a region in which the electrons from a group of atoms align themselves not to the magnetic poles but rather into whorls. Once arranged into this unique topology they can behave like particles and are protected from outside forces.

Skyrmion - Something - Magnetisation - Marrows - Data

"If you want to create or destroy a skyrmion, that requires you to do something quite violent to the magnetisation," explains Marrows. "If you store data you want to be sure that when you come back and look next week, next year or in ten years' time, that it's still...
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