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Physicists discover way to speed up computers using T-rays

October 10, 2016, 17:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The researchers devised a fast and highly efficient remagnetization technique, a solid foundation for developing ultrafast memory

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© Ruslan Shamukov/ TASS

MOSCOW, October 10. /TASS/ Russian scientists from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), A.M. Prokhorov General Physics Institute (GPI) together with their colleagues from Germany and the Netherlands have found a way to boost computer performance by utilizing T-rays, or terahertz radiation, the MIPT’s press office stated. This breakthrough was recently reported in the scientific journal, Nature Photonics.

In modern computers, to set or reset memory cells in hardware, a magnetic field is used. According to the scientists, each memory manipulating operation requires some time which one cannot easily reduce. The joint research team proposed that electromagnetic pulses at terahertz frequencies with wavelengths of about 0.1 millimeters, i.e. between those of microwaves and infrared light, could be used in memory switching instead of external magnetic fields. A more familiar device that makes use of terahertz radiation is the airport body scanner. T-rays can expose weapons or explosives concealed under a person’s clothing without causing any harm to live tissues.

To find out whether T-rays could be used for convenient atom state switching, the researchers performed an experiment with thulium orthoferrite, a prototypical compound from the class of weak ferromagnets which are usually applied in hardware. The experiment has shown that the terahertz radiation pumps thulium atoms into an energized state and alters the magnetic properties of both iron and thulium ions, with the effect of T-rays being almost ten times greater than that of the external magnetic field. In other words, the researchers devised a fast and highly efficient remagnetization technique, a solid foundation for developing ultrafast memory.

In this study, the researchers chose thulium orthoferrite for demonstration purposes. But the proposed magnetization control scheme itself is applicable to many other magnetic materials.

Anatoly Zeldin, the co-author of the study and the research assistant at IGP, claims that this study on the magnetization control is a breakthrough in this field.

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