Paving the way for the next-generation storage revolution, scientists have pioneered a novel effect arising from the relativistic physics of Albert Einstein that allows the fabrication of a new type of magnet that behaves like cats.
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Similar to a cat's ability to flip itself in the air by twisting different parts of her body in different directions and land on its feet, these magnets can flip themselves through the internal motion of their own electrons, the researchers claimed.
"In these new magnetic materials, a current running through the magnet can turn around the direction of the magnetization depending on the direction of the current," said Jairo Sinova of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.
Sinova's group worked together with theoretical and experimental collaborators on this novel effect.
"This novel phenomenon in physics, dubflipbed spin-orbit torques, links the spin-degree of freedom of magnets which gives rise to the magnetization to the charge degree of freedom that allows for current-charge motion inside the material," Sinova added.
This effect occurs in magnetic materials that have broken-inversion symmetry. The researchers first observed spin-orbit torques in the artificial bulk diluted magnetic semiconductor GaMnAs.
GaMnAs is the diluted counterpart of crystalline zincblende structures of Silicon and Gallium arsenide, which are the pillars of modern electronics. However, in GaMnAs, spin-orbit torques were demonstrated only at very low temperatures.
The discovery can pave the way for using spin-orbit torques in technological applications, said the study appeared in the journal Nature Physics.