An international research team from Lancaster University has discovered a new method to perform superfast data processing using light pulses instead of electricity. The team used magnets to create faster data processing speeds with low energy.

Global data centers use roughly about 416 terawatts (4.16 x 1014 watts) (or about 3% of the total electricity) last year, nearly 40% more than the entire United Kingdom. U.S. data centers use more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, requiring roughly 34 giant (500-megawatt) coal-powered plants.

These servers produce heat which in turn requires more electricity to cool the servers. This is a critical problem and that’s the reason for which Microsoft submerged hundreds of its data centers in the ocean, just to keep them cool and cut costs.

These servers consist of magnetic hard drives to store data. In hard drives, the data is encoded as binary information (0 or 1) through the orientation of tiny magnets. The magnetic read/write head is used to retrieve information using electrical currents which dissipate huge amounts of energy.

In the proposed solution, scientists developed and fabricated a very small antenna on top of the magnet to concentrate and thereby enhance the electric light field. The enhanced strength of the local electric field was sufficient to navigate the magnetization of the magnet to its new orientation in just one-trillionth of a second. The temperature of the magnet did not increase because the amount of energy required for the process was only one quantum (one photon) of the THz wavelength per spin.

The research team includes Dr. Rostislav Mikhaylovskiy, formerly at Radboud University and now Lancaster University, Stefan Schlauderer, Dr. Christoph Lange and Professor Rupert Huber from Regensburg University, Professor Alexey Kimel from Radboud University and Professor Anatoly Zvezdin from the Russian Academy of Sciences.


Author: Sai Kumar