Feeds

Boffins' invisible magnetic ring pieces: Next-gen mobe emitters

Wire aerials? Pah. You need a nanoscale 3D vortex

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Vid German boffins have discovered that two microscopic magnets glued together can create a radio antenna capable of transmitting into the GHz band - where mobile phone signals and other tech lies.

The disks are only 500 billionths of a metre wide and 10nm thick, so even once a pair of them are stuck together with a similarly sized non-magnetic layer between them, the overall component is still bloody small. At the centre of the resulting disk is a stable magnetic vortex allowing the device to transmit radio signals. It paves the way for a new generation of tiny antennas.

Details of the research appeared in Physics Letters, in a paper authored by researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf working with fellow boffins at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). While the study is traitorously complicated, the implications are significant.

The existence of vortices in nanoscale magnetic disks has been known for a while. Various researchers hope to exploit them as computer memory, but the breakthrough here is the discovery that two stupidly tiny magnets will stabilise each other and thus permit high-frequency transmissions.

A magnetic disk 500nm across has north and south poles circling it, as though one has taken a chain of bar magnets and attached the last to the first to make a circle, a series of which make up the disk. But as one approaches the centre of the ring there is no longer room for our chain of poles so they're obliged to stand up, or point down, and it's this duality of position which lends itself to computer memory.

Apply a voltage to the disk and the vortex spins and emits radio waves. This is fine to a point, although once the frequency starts to get anywhere useful the polarity reverses and the spinning stops and has to be run up again in the opposite direction - not ideal for contiguous transmission.

Which is where the second disk comes in. Once the two disks are glued together the circular pattern of bar magnets goes into three dimensions: as well as curving around the disk our hypothetical magnets curve into each other creating something akin to a torus, stabilising the vortex core which can now be spun at much higher speeds.

Image showing poles and lines

My chips are in pole position ... how the magnets work

We’re still a long way from nanoscopic transmitters, at the spark-gap stage of magnetic radio, and these projects are as much about understanding what magnetism can do as finding practical applications for it. As we learn more it's becoming clear that magnets still have enormous untapped potential.

To demonstrate that, and prove that not all magnetic innovations need electron-beam lithography, here's a video of an amiable old man showing a Star Trek tractor beam in action:

Watch Video

®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun
Astro boffins probe fiery star's hidden depths
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.