In the search for higher density data storage some rather arcane materials are being studied for their unique magnetic properties.  The latest research being conducted is with extremely thin multilayered films, in this specific case iridium-cobalt-platinum films.  These materials display the ability to create incredibly small magnetic features called skyrmions, an area where the magnetic field is rotated compared to the surrounding material and can be coerced to appear and disappear.  This is the essence of magnetic data storage, on a much smaller scale you see in current storage material.  There are certainly a lot of hurdles to overcome, the experiment described at Nanotechweb is the first to form skymirons at room temperature and they used an X-ray source as the write head.  It is still quite interesting to read about, even if we are a long way from seeing it considered for use in data storage.

"Researchers in France, Switzerland, the UK and Germany say they have observed nanoscale chiral skyrmions at room temperature for the first time. Skyrmions, which are quasi-particle magnetic spin configurations with a whirling vortex-like structure, could be used to make ultrahigh-density data storage technologies and nanodigital electronic devices with greatly improved data transfer speeds and processing power."

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