Tokyo University scientists have developed a new magnetic material that could vastly increase high-capacity digital storage.
Called Epsilon Iron Oxide, the new material also happens to be very robust and this makes it useful for applications where long-term storage, such as archiving (think data centers), is absolutely necessary.
Digital tapes drive the high-speed internet era we live in. Though slower to access than other storage devices such as hard disk drives and solid state memory, digital tapes have very high storage densities.
This makes them not only useful for storing more information than would be possible with devices of similar sizes, but also in a cost-effective manner.
Tokyo University professor Shin-ichi Ohkoshi and his team have now taken a leap forward by developing a new magnetic material which offers even more greater storage densities than ever before.
Thanks to the robust nature of epsilon iron oxide, data can last for longer while operating at low power. As an added bonus, this system would also be very cheap to run.
According to the scientists, the new material has a strong magnetic anisotropy; it is resistant to external stray magnetic fields that might otherwise interfere with the data.
This feature also means that it is harder to write the data in the first place. Ohkoshi and his team have however developed a novel approach to that part of the process too.
The recording process relies on high-frequency millimeter waves in the region of 30-300 gigahertz, or billions of cycles per second.
These high frequency waves are directed at strips of epsilon iron oxide, which is an excellent absorber of such waves.
When an external magnetic field is applied, the epsilon iron oxide allows its magnetic direction, which represents either a binary 1 or 0, to flip in the presence of the high-frequency waves.
Once the tape has passed by the recording head where this takes place, the data is then locked into the tape until it is overwritten.
Epsilon iron oxide also has uses beyond data storage: The frequencies it absorbs well for recording purposes are the same frequencies intended for use in cellular communication technologies like 5G.
Image and content: Ohkoshi et al/University of Tokyo