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A new way of operating the powerful X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has enabled researchers to detect and measure fluctuations in magnetic structures being considered for new data storage and computing technologies.
In a paper published earlier this month in Physical Review Letters, a team led by Joshua Turner, SLAC staff scientist, and Sujoy Roy, staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), reported measuring the fluctuations in these structures, called magnetic skyrmions, with billionth-of-a-second resolution, 1,000 times better than had been possible before.
Skyrmions - Spin - Textures - Atoms - Spin
Skyrmions are multi-atom vortex spin textures in which the atoms' spin orientations change from one direction in the middle to the opposite direction at the circumference. They move easily in response to electric fields, which makes them attractive for use in data storage technologies, shift-register memories as well as advanced computing technologies.
The charge and spin aspects of atoms are not rigid. They respond to a host of forces with vibrations and other movements – collectively called fluctuations – some of which even affect the motion of the atoms themselves. Theorists have proposed recently that fluctuations may have key roles in determining how complex materials behave, such as in the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity.
Way - Skyrmion - Fluctuations - Structures - Applications
Until now, however, there was no way to analyze skyrmion fluctuations in the thin-film structures needed for technological applications. This new result was made possible by a recently developed "two-bucket" mode for creating pairs of X-ray pulses at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) free-electron laser that allows researchers to study equilibrium phenomena that takes place in time periods less than a billionth of a second long for the first time.
While individual LCLS pulses are usually separated by about 8 thousandths of a second, the two-bucket technique creates pulse pairs that can be as close as a third of...
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