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Jan Aarts Earns FOM Projectruimte Grant

Experimental physicist Jan Aarts has been awarded a FOM Projectruimte grant of 545.000 euro. He will use the money to research the interplay between superconducting currents and ferromagnetism. In the future this could lead to computer memory with negligible power consumption.

One of many ways for computers to store their memory is with the use of ferromagnets. They read and write data by flipping small ferromagnets using electric currents. Inevitably, this goes hand in hand with the loss of energy. Except of course if these ferromagnets are superconducting and let currents flow without any resistance. Physicist Jan Aarts and his team already showed that this is possible by growing layers of the ferromagnet chromium dioxide and inducing so-called supercurrents. However, to use this in real-life computers, thin but wide layers are not useful.

In a recent development, the team learned how to grow wires instead of layers. With the FOM Projectruimte grant, Aarts is now able to hire a PhD student and a postdoc and purchase new equipment, so that he can research supercurrents through chromium dioxide devices based on wires. By studying the interplay between superconductivity and ferromagnetism, he aims to lay the groundwork for future applications, like solid state drives that read and write data without loss of power. Aarts’ research group is at the moment the only group in this research field with the skills to fabricate the necessary wires, giving them a head start on their mission.

Electron microscope image of a chromium dioxide devices based on wires. The green wire is the chromium dioxide ferromagnet. The orange wires are superconductors and are necessary to produce a superconducting current through the green wire.

Erik Arends
Physics Outreach Officer
arends [at]
+31 (0)71 527 5471
Twitter: @LeidenPhysics

Publ. 20-05-2016 11:25
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