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Value-Adding Antiferromagnetic Materials for Memory Storage

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Digital electronics
The ability to read, write, and destroy a binary data state is the core of digital computation. In today’s integrated circuits, transistors, a type of semiconductor device, may switch an electrical signal, acting as a bit that can either represent zero or one.

As a result, a transistor is frequently referred to as a simple logic gate or digital device. It functions essentially as a memory cell. The ability to miniaturize transistors and pack ever-increasing numbers of them onto a silicon wafer later spurred the development in power and computing capacity.

Since Moore’s law is under jeopardy and is rapidly nearing a crucial barrier, researchers are frantically searching for alternatives. Using the quantum states of matter to carry out binary computations is one approach.

Another approach is to get the spin state of an atom or electron. Spintronics is a form of computing that enables read/write operations to be performed in states other than the charge state.

Spintronic devices could have an impact on advancements in quantum computing, neuromorphic computing, and high-power data storage. These devices outperform conventional ones in terms of data processing speed and transistor density.

Electron spin

The intrinsic angular momentum of an electron is revealed by its spin, a quantum quantity. Although there is no equivalent quantity in classical physics, the comparison serves to remind us of the particle’s rotation around its own axis.

There are just two possible values for this number: +1/2 and -1/2, where the signs denote the two possible directions—either “up,” or upwards, or “down,” or downwards. As a result, electrons can be compared to small magnets that orbit the elemental nuclei in a manner similar to how the Earth orbits the Sun. With regard to the nucleus, each electron has a distinct spin orientation that can be aligned in either direction.
In the same way that binary code only uses bits 0 and 1, spin only accepts these two values, making it an ideal option for information encoding. As a result, the idea of spintronics—a cutting-edge kind of electronics—was created.

The electron’s spin state has two values, up and down, which are comparable to “0” and “1” in binary data. These values enable the transmission of digital information at a rate faster than that made feasible by silicon technology employed in modern transistors and with ever-decreasing physical dimensions.

It has been challenging to date to find a spintronics-based material that satisfies the two conditions of being able to regulate the direction of the electron’s spin and having a “lifetime” spin, or a life cycle, long enough to allow information to pass through.

Antiferromagnetic materials

A special class of materials (antiferromagnets) with a weak or negligible external interacting magnetic field is essential for the technological realization of spintronics-based systems and is necessary for the shrinking of memory devices. Antiferromagnets mostly possess the following qualities:

  • Due to the absence of external magnetization, insensitivity to external fields
  • There is no contact with nearby particles
  • Minimal switching times (antiferromagnetic resonance is of the order of THz instead of GHz as in ferromagnets)
  • Various antiferromagnetic materials, including semiconductors and superconductors

The semimetal Mn3Sn is one fascinating substance. The fact that Mn3Sn exhibits a mild external magnetic field despite not being a perfect antiferromagnet has increased interest in it. The research team was interested in determining whether the Hall effect was caused by this weak magnetic field. A crystal having an anomalous Hall effect in an antiferromagnetic material is basically magnetization-free.

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Hall effect

In the Hall effect, the charged particle floats transversely in the direction of electrical conduction and perpendicular to an external magnetic field. The anomalous Hall effect exhibits a similar pattern of activity, but there is no external magnetic field because the magnetic field is created by the lattice structure of the conducting material.

Researchers can explore the properties of antiferromagnets, such as piezomagnetism, which spontaneously mixes mechanical deformation with magnetic moment induction, using the anomalous Hall effect.

Piezomagnetism is a phenomena that occurs in some antiferromagnetic and ferrimagnetic crystals and is distinguished by a linear relationship between the mechanical strain and magnetic polarization of the system. A spontaneous magnetic moment can be produced by applying physical strain to a piezomagnetic material, and physical deformation can be produced by applying a magnetic field.

As a result, unlike magnetostriction, it enables the bidirectional management of a magnetic moment. If it expands in size at room temperature, this phenomenon, like its electric cousin piezoelectricity, might be technologically advantageous.

The piezomagnetic effect has mostly been studied in antiferromagnetic insulators at cryogenic temperatures, according to the authors’ work “Piezomagnetic Switching of the Anomalous Hall Effect in an Antiferromagnet at Room Temperature” published in Nature Physics. Piezomagnetism in Mn3Sn at standard temperatures was recently discovered by the study’s scientific team.

They discovered that the Mn3Sn allows them to regulate both the sign and size of the anomalous Hall effect by applying a modest amount of uniaxial strain, on the order of 0.1%.

Experiment

Testing on a Weyl antiferromagnet by the researchers showed that adding stress raised the outside residual magnetic field.

If the magnetic field were what was causing the Hall effect, the voltage across the material would change. The study showed that the voltage did not vary considerably in actual use. Instead, they came to the conclusion that the orientation of the material’s spinning electrons is what causes the Hall effect.

A weak external magnetic field is maintained by Mn3Sn. According to the researchers’ findings, the arrangement of the spin electrons within the material is what creates the anomalous Hall effect because they were unable to show any corresponding impact on the voltage across the material.

This allows piezomagnetism to be used to regulate the anomalous Hall effect in Mn3Sn in a way that is different from magnetization by uniaxial deformation. The antiferromagnetic crystal may be given a small amount of uniaxial deformation to fine-tune the anomalous Hall effect (conventionally, functional control of the anomalous Hall effect is achieved by applying an external magnetic field).

The experiment, according to the researchers, demonstrates that the Hall effect is a result of quantum interactions between conduction electrons and their spins. Understanding and creating magnetic memory technology require these results to be fully realized.
The experiment demonstrates how the anomalous Hall effect can be controlled by strain-induced lattice changes and the resulting anisotropy of electrons in some materials.

Numerous spintronic memory systems are already in use. MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory) has been commercialized and may replace electronic memory despite relying on ferromagnetic switching. We are able to make the antiferromagnetic material Mn3Sn work as a basic memory device in the experiment using the same method as ferromagnets in MRAM, proving the material’s ability to transition spin states.

 

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Gaming

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s Retry Wording Has Been Updated in a Subtle Manner

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Despite the numerous praises players have showered upon Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, there is one particular aspect of the game that has garnered nothing but criticism: the perplexing wording of its retry screen, which players encounter when facing a Game Over. Fortunately, the developers have discreetly resolved this issue in the game’s latest patch. They have fixed the Platinum Trophy progression, resulting in a slightly less confusing experience for players.

If you don’t possess exceptional combat abilities, chances are you’ve come across the game’s notorious four options: “Retry from Current Battle, Retry from This Battle, Retry from Before Battle, or Resume.”. As an avid gamer, I must admit that I’ve experienced the frustration of losing precious time due to my own foolish mistake. In this particular instance, I found myself engrossed in fine-tuning my matrix and equipping my party, only to have it all go to waste when I encountered a formidable enemy. To compound my error, I made the ill-advised decision to retry the battle, resulting in an hour of agonizing repetition. Lesson learned!

The “Retry from This Battle” option has become a source of frustration for players who are struggling with the game’s final boss encounter, leading to a significant number of rage-quits. Without giving away any surprises, opting for that choice after being defeated would result in players being sent back to the beginning of the final boss encounter, needlessly forcing them to forfeit approximately an hour’s worth of hard-earned progress in battle.

After the update, players now have the option to select “Retry from the Current Phase” instead of “Retry from Before the Current Battle.”. It’s worth noting that this change is only slightly improved. It’s rather disappointing that the screen is overly convoluted, which may lead to players feeling frustrated. While it’s better late than never, we can’t help but wonder if this issue will persist in the future.

 

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Gaming

Baldur’s Gate 3 has received an impressive haul of 5 BAFTA Awards, with the prestigious title of Best Game among them

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Baldur’s Gate 3 continues to solidify its position as a standout title, garnering five prestigious BAFTA awards, including the highly coveted Best Game accolade. In addition to the top accolade of the evening, the RPG created by the talented team at Larian Studios also emerged victorious in the categories of narrative, music, players’ choice, and performer in a supporting role.

Several games for the PS5 and PS4 received BAFTA awards. Alan Wake 2 won for Audio Achievement, Cyberpunk 2077 was recognized as an Evolving Game, Viewfinder was named the Best British Game, and Nadji Jeter received the Performer in a Leading Role award for his portrayal of Miles Morales in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Standing on the stage that night, Swen Vincke, the founder of Larian Studios, expressed his disbelief: “It’s truly incredible to be here.” The effort and dedication poured into creating Baldur’s Gate 3 is truly commendable. It’s truly remarkable, and I extend my gratitude to Bafta and everyone involved.

Here are the winners of the BAFTA awards for 2024:

  • Debut game: Venba
  • Audio achievement: Alan Wake 2
  • Multiplayer: Super Mario Bros. Wonder
  • Evolving game: Cyberpunk 2077
  • Game design: Dave the Diver
  • British game: Viewfinder
  • Artistic achievement: Alan Wake 2
  • New intellectual property — Viewfinder
  • Narrative: Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Performer in a supporting role: Andrew Wincott, Raphael in Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Family — Super Mario Bros. Wonder
  • EE Players’ Choice — Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Animation — Hi-Fi Rush
  • Music — Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Game Beyond Entertainment — Tchia
  • Technical achievement: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Performer in a leading role — Nadji Jeter, Miles Morales in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Best game: Baldur’s Gate 3

 

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Geek Culture

Financial records from before Starlink show that SpaceX spent a lot of money on moonshot bets

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SpaceX’s 2018 and 2019 confidential financial records give us a first look at how much the company probably depends on its Starlink business unit and getting the Starship rocket online in order to start making money.

The detailed balance sheets are from five years ago, but they give a very close look at how one of the most important and mysterious private companies in the U.S. works. In November, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that SpaceX went from losing $2 billion in sales to supposedly making $9 billion in 2023 and $15 billion in 2024. These numbers help show what the company spent its money on and how much it spent it.

The company had two important years in 2018 and 2019: SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time in February 2018. In March of that year, the company failed a key flight test of its crew Dragon capsule, but a month later, the same capsule exploded while being tested on the ground. SpaceX was probably under a lot of pressure to give NASA astronauts a safe, reliable spaceship so that it could start making more money from the huge government contract it won to carry crews.

Also, SpaceX sent up its first 60 Starlink satellites that year. The company’s main goal is to build a colony of humans on Mars, or, as CEO Elon Musk often says, “to expand the light of consciousness” throughout the universe. The service has become an important part of those plans.

Let’s look at it

Comprehensive balance sheets from those years that were looked at show that the company made $1.98 billion in sales in 2018 and $1.45 billion in 2019, but it had a net loss of -$308 million in 2018 and -$501 million in 2019. SpaceX changed how it reported revenue from the percentage of a total contract that was completed to the percentage of discrete aspects of each contract that were completed because of a change in accounting rules, which is why revenue went down from 2018 to 2019. I saw the documents that explained this. I asked SpaceX for a word on this story, but they didn’t answer.

Most of the losses were due to “cost of revenue,” which is a broad term for all the costs that come with making and selling a product or service. In this item, it also lists the prices of its employees and contractors, as well as the rent and utilities. SpaceX even takes into account the costs of reusing launch vehicle gear that has lost value over time.

Additionally, the business spent a lot of money on R&D—$559 million in 2018 and $661 million the following year. Companies often put the costs of hiring people in this line item; this is the “development” part of R&D. In SpaceX’s case, though, the financial statement says that these costs were mostly for the Starlink and Starship projects. SpaceX launched the first batch of operational Starlink satellites in May 2019, which was a significant advancement for the program. At the end of 2018, the company had $868 million in cash and cash equivalents. In 2019, they will have $990 million.

The balance sheets cover the years after NASA gave SpaceX contracts to take people and things to and from the International Space Station. Getting contracts with NASA from the U.S. government brought in 37% of the money in 2018 and 83% of the money in 2019. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

The company’s value grew to $180 billion at the end of last year. Since May 2019, when 60 Starlink satellites were launched, it has made truly huge progress: More than 5,500 active satellites are now in space, and more than 2.5 million people have signed up to use them. This is clear from the fact that sales are through the roof.

When Starship gets there, things might change again. The huge rocket is currently being tested in space from the company’s launch site in Texas. It will be needed to keep up the launch schedule for the second-generation satellites. These satellites will weigh almost twice as much as the first generation of satellites. Adding more satellites to orbit will help end users get more room.

It was in May 2022 that Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, said that Starship “is the only thing that can carry the Starlink 2 satellites.”

“Falcon [9] does not have the volume or the mass-to-orbit capability that Starlink 2 needs,” he said.

A lot of people have questions about SpaceX’s most recent financials. The company uses its own rocket, the Falcon 9, to launch its Starlink satellites. This lets it send the internet satellites into space at a rate that has never been seen before. The company can spread out the cost of gear over time because the rocket booster can be used more than once. But it will take longer to get Starlink to millions more people around the world if Starship doesn’t go live right away.

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