Researchers from the University of Nottingham discovered a new antiferromagnetic material that may be the basis of future spintronics devices. The new material is copper manganese arsenide (CuMnAs), has an advantage of ferromagnetic materials - in which strong magnetic fields can erase the encoded information.
The problem with antiferromagnets is that manipulating the magnetic ordering of antiferromagnets is quite difficult - because the spins of neighboring electrons point in opposite directions which means it is not easy to change them with external magnetic fields.
The researchers discovered that when applying electric current to CuMnAs, the electron spins rotate in the same direction - and retain the spin when the power is turned off. This means it can be an efficient way to creating a nonvolatile memory. Reading the data is done by applying another pulse of a smaller current which reveals the spin position.
The researcher say that antiferromagnetic memory may be up to 1,000 times faster than current storage technologies. It is still far from commercialization, though.