Four stroke engine for tomes makes bit store 4 data


Technological Innovation Website Editor – 07/13/2022

four stroke engine for

Although there are no pistons, connecting rods and a crankshaft, the behavior is remarkably similar to that of a combustion engine.
[Imagem: TU Wien]

Bit with 4 data

If you toggle a bit in a computer’s memory and then change it again, you are restoring the original state, as there are only two states, which can be called “0 and 1”.

However, a surprising effect has just been discovered by a team at the Technological University of Vienna, Austria: A crystal made of oxides of the elements gadolinium and manganese requires you to turn the switch on and off not just once, but twice, so that the original value is recovered.

This is because, during this double on and off process, the spin of the gadolinium atoms performs a complete rotation. the same as with the crankshaft of a combustion engine, in which an up and down motion is converted into a circular motion.

This new phenomenon opens up interesting possibilities in the physics of materials and, of course, in the storage of information.

Materials with these characteristics can be used to create systems with four possible states, that is, storing two bits per transistor, instead of the traditional “0” or “1” bit. The effect is also particularly interesting for sensor technology, for example exploiting the phenomenon to create a magnetic pulse counter.

And the effect still provides important new information for theoretical research: another example of the so-called “topological effect”, a class of material effects that has attracted a lot of attention in solid state physics for years and should allow for the development of new materials.

Gadolinium four stroke engine

Gadolinium manganese pentoxide (GdMntwoO5) a material in which electricity and magnetism are intrinsically linked, which makes it possible, for example, to activate or deactivate magnetism using electricity.

That was precisely what the team was studying when they came across the unusual phenomenon. At first, the material was electrically polarized – positively charged on one side and negatively charged on the other. When a strong magnetic field is turned on, its polarization changes very little.

However, when the magnetic field is turned off again, a dramatic change occurs: Suddenly, the polarization reverses, and the side that was positively charged becomes negatively charged, and vice versa.

Then it is necessary to repeat the same process: Again, you turn on the magnetic field and the electrical polarization remains approximately constant; when the magnetic field is turned off, the polarization reverses again and thus returns to its original state.

“In a way, a four-stroke engine for atoms. In a four-stroke engine, it also takes four steps to get back to the starting state – and the cylinder moves up and down twice in the process. In our case, the magnetic field moves up and down twice before the initial state is restored and the spin of the gadolinium atoms points in the original direction again,” said Professor Andrei Pimenov, one of the pioneers in the electrical control of magnetism.

And the secret to it all lies in the “gadolinium piston”: Gadolinium atoms change their direction of rotation (their magnetic moment, or spin) in each of the four steps, but by 90 degrees each time.


Article: Topologically protected magnetoelectric switching in a multiferroic
Authors: Louis Ponet, S. Artyukhin, Th. Kain, J. Wettstein, Anna Pimenov, A. Shuvaev, X. Wang, S.-W. Cheong, Maxim Mostovoy, Andrei Pimenov
Magazine: Nature
Vol.: 607, pages 81-85
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04851-6

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