Researchers Discover the Potential of Bismuth Ferrite to Store Information on a Computer Using Electricity

Study into a potential class of materials by scientists at the University of Arkansas could lead to more inexpensive and faster computer memory.

Omid Sayedaghaee (Image credit: Photo by Whit Pruitt)

The researchers investigate bismuth ferrite (BFO), a compound that has the ability to store information much more efficiently compared to what is possible at present. It could also be possible to use BFO in transducers, sensors, and other electronic devices.

In the existing technology, magnetic fields are used to encode the information on a computer, and this method needs more energy, over 99% of which is dissipated in the form of excess heat.

Omid Sayedaghaee, a doctoral candidate in microelectronics-photonics, asked, “Is there any way to avoid that waste of energy?

We could store information by applying an electric field to write it and a magnetic field to read it if we use materials that are responsive to both fields at the same time.

Omid Sayedaghaee, Study Lead Author, University of Arkansas.

The study has been published in Physical Review Letters.

BFO is multiferroic, that is, it can respond to magnetic and electric fields and can potentially be a suitable material to store information on a computer. However, the magnetoelectric response of BFO is small. Sayedaghaee and coworkers Bin Xu, Sergey Prosandeev, and Charles Paillard, professors in physics, in collaboration with Distinguished Professor of physics Laurent Bellaiche, used the Arkansas High Performance Computing Center to reproduce conditions that can help improve the magnetoelectric response to the extent that it could be used to more successfully storing information using electricity, instead of magnetism.

The scientists also recorded the details of the phenomenon leading to improved response, which they termed an “electroacoustic magnon.” The term reflects the fact that the finding is a mixture of three known “quasiparticles,” which are just like oscillations in a solid: optical phonons, acoustic phonons, and magnons.

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