Ultrafast lasers enable rapid, photo-magnetic optical storage

Jan. 20, 2017
University of Bialystok in Poland and colleagues used cool ultrafast lasers to store information on garnet crystal.

Andrzej Stupakiewicz from the University of Bialystok in Poland and colleagues used precisely tuned laser pulses to store information on garnet crystal at speeds 1000 times faster than magnetic hard drives with very little heat. The work was published in Nature.

RELATED ARTICLE: Can new techniques continue to densify optical data storage capacity?

In data storage devices such as the hard drive in your laptop, information is written and read in magnetic units of information called bits. When data is stored, an electromagnet flips the magnetic orientation of small patches on a spinning disc. Magnetization in one direction is read as a 1 and in another direction, 0, writing data in binary code.

The problem is this technique can be relatively slow, energy-intensive, and generate heat. And while ultrafast lasers can be fired at metals to force them to flip a memory bit, the process still generates heat. Stupakiewicz’s team enlisted the help of lasers to write magnetic data bits too, but in a slightly different manner. Instead of using a high-temperature laser on a metal, they used polarized light to flip the magnetization on points of a garnet material.

Stupakiewicz's team showed laser light polarized in one direction wrote a 1 while a different direction wrote a 0 extremely quicklyfewer that 20 trillionths of a secondand with very little heat of less than six joules per cubic centimeter. And because little excess heat was generated, the device was also very energy efficient.

The researchers anticipate that this research will open up many opportunities for the design and development of materials and methods in the field of opto-magnetic recording. "But we'll probably be waiting a while for it to hit shelves," says James Thom, a computer scientist from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. "Although you may be able to write the tape reasonably quickly, to retrieve it, you need to go to the bit of tape that you need," he explains. "A lot of the speed of a disc drive, for example, depends on the speed at which the disc is spinning."

SOURCE: COSMOS Magazine; https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/cool-laser-writes-data-in-20-trillionths-of-a-second?utm_source=MIT+TR+Newsletters&utm_campaign=1f435d0b04-The_Download&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_997ed6f472-1f435d0b04-153908949

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Precision Motion Control for Sample Manipulation in Ultra-High Resolution Tomography

April 10, 2024
Learn the critical items that designers and engineers must consider when attempting to achieve reliable ultra-high resolution tomography results here!

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!