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Perovskite could herald next generation of data storage

Perovskite is a material more commonly associated with solar power technology. Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral composed of calcium titanate, and it is found in the Earth’s mantle.

The material has been used successfully in the manufacture of solar cells. Here a perovskite structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, is used for the light-harvesting active layer of a solar cell.

The application of perovskite for computing has come from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, with an aim to find a solution for the increased amounts of data being generated by computerized systems.

Advanced computer systems require hard drives with improved efficiency and greater storage capacity (density). To achieve this requires a material possessing magnetic properties that can be quickly and easily manipulated. A perovskite material, whose magnetic order can be rapidly changed without disrupting it due to heating, has been developed to meet this need. The material is described as the world’s first magnetic photoconductor.

The material was developed through the synthesis of a ferromagnetic photovoltaic material. With this the magnetic state is created by having the electrons in the material continually compete with each other in terms of movement and direction. This leads to both magnetic moments, which are aligned in a well-defined order; and where light illumination generates high density free conduction electrons.

This combination creates special properties. When light strikes the material, electrons are emitted and these can be fine-tuned by altering the light directed to the material surfaces. This is the basis of the memory storage system, allowing for higher capacity with a lower overall energy demand.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. The research is titled “Optically switched magnetism in photovoltaic perovskite CH3NH3(Mn:Pb)I3.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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