Ultrafast: The next generation of photonic memory devices

! © Eindhoven University of Technology
© Eindhoven University of Technology

Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology have developed a hybrid technology which revolutionises the process of data storage for the next generation of photonic memory devices.

The research, from the Institute of Photonic Integration of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) , has led to a hybrid technology which boasts the advantages of both light and magnetic hardrives. The technology uses ultra-short light pulses and allows data to be written directly in a magnetic memory in a fast, energy-efficient way. As soon as the information is written, it is designed to leave space for empty memory domains to be filled in with new data. The research could have implications for future photonic memory devices.

Mark Lalieu, PhD candidate at the Applied Physics Department of TU/e, said: “The switching of the magnetization direction using the single-pulse all-optical switching is in the order of picoseconds, which is about a 100 to 1000 times faster than what is possible with today’s technology. Moreover, as the optical information is stored in magnetic bits without the need of energy-costly electronics, it holds enormous potential for future use in photonic integrated circuits.”

Bert Koopmans explained: “This ‘on the fly’ copying of information between light and magnetic racetracks, without any intermediate electronic steps, is like jumping out of a moving high-speed train to another one. From a ‘photonic Thalys’ to a ‘magnetic ICE’, without any intermediate stops. You will understand the enormous increase in speed and reduction in energy consumption that can be achieved in this way”.

The next generation of photonic memory devices

This research was performed on micrometric wires but in the future devices on the nanometer scale could be designed for better integration on chips. The Institute of Photonic Integration is working towards the final integration of photonic memory devices.

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