Researchers from the US Ames Laboratory in collaboration with Iowa State University and Greece's University of Crete have developed a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than current technologies. The new technology uses all-optical quantum methods. Magnetic memory switching is used in hard drives and MRAM and this new technology will enable terahertz (or faster) memories.
The new switching technology uses short laser pulses to change the magnetic structure (from anti-ferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering) in colossal magnetoresistive materials (CMRs). Current technologies use thermal magnetic switching, which makes it difficult to exceed gigahertz speeds. CMR materials however do not require heat to trigger switching. Those materials however are highly responsive to external magnetic fields. In these materials switching occurs by manipulating spin and charge quantum mechanically.