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What about skyrmions?

Skyrmions are "ghostly" quantum rings that appear at very low temperature (near absolute zero) in a few materials, like MnSi and FeCoSi. In magnetic materials the spin of electrons are all aligned and point in the same direction. Hence the magnetic field that is "felt" around the atom(s).  
A physicist, Tom Skyrme, discovered that in some extreme conditions the magnetic field can form rings and these rings are quite stable, they are not easily influenced by external magnetic field. Hence, they would be ideal to store information. 
The problem, of course, is that keeping atoms at such a low temperature is coslty. 
Now a research team at NIST (in cooperation with other researchers) have found a way to create skyrmions at ambient temperature.
They placed nano disks of magnetised cobalt on the surface of a cobalt palladium layer. Using a polarised neutron reflectometer at NIST they were able to prove the formation of skyrmions.  
We are still very far from a skyrmion chip to replace a flash memory, but the result is interesting for people working on spintronics. It also tells us that Nature can teach us a lot more and that we are nowhere at the end of our quest for ways to store information. Circular magnetic fields provided by skyrmions require a fraction of the energy needed today to store information. As Richard Feynman once said: "There’s plenty of room at the bottom"…

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently Head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital, co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until Aprile 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.