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Apr 22, 2022

Next generation photonic memory devices are ‘light-written,’ ultrafast and energy efficient

Posted by in categories: computing, space

Circa 2019


Light is the most energy-efficient way of moving information. Yet, light shows one big limitation: it is difficult to store. As a matter of fact, data centers rely primarily on magnetic hard drives. However, in these hard drives, information is transferred at an energy cost that is nowadays exploding. Researchers of the Institute of Photonic Integration of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have developed a ‘hybrid technology’ which shows the advantages of both light and magnetic hard drives.

Ultra-short (femtosecond) allows data to be directly written in a magnetic memory in a fast and highly energy-efficient way. Moreover, as soon as the information is written (and stored), it moves forward leaving space to empty memory domains to be filled in with new data. This research, published in Nature Communications, promises to revolutionize the process of data storage in future photonic integrated circuits.

Data are stored in hard drives in the form of ‘bits’, tiny magnetic domains with a North and a South pole. The direction of these poles (‘magnetization’), determines whether the bits contain a digital 0 or a 1. Writing the data is achieved by ‘switching’ the direction of the magnetization of the associated bits.

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