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April 16, 2014

New research paves way for smaller computer hard drives

Researchers explored the interface between materials to study whether they can create completely new properties.

By CBR Staff Writer

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a new technique to explore the interface between materials, paving way for smaller computer hard drives.

According to researchers, a better perception of how materials interface would facilitate tweaking the properties of different materials, which may lead to the development of solar cells, new superconductors and smaller hard drives.

NUS Asst Prof Rusydi said that when two materials are together, they can create completely new properties.

"For instance, two non-conducting, non-magnetic insulators can become conducting and in some cases ferromagnetic and superconducting at their interface."

"The problem is that we do not fully understand what is happening at the interface yet."

Further, researchers examined the interface between strontium titanate and lanthanum aluminate, according to scientific journal Nature Communication.

"For this interface, a theory predicts that the conductivity should be tenfold higher than what is observed," Rusydi added.

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"So, 90 percent of the charge carriers – the electrons – are missing."

In a bid to find the missing electrons, researchers used a method that employs high-energy reflectivity integrated with spectroscopic ellipsometry to ‘floodlight’ the interface.

Only 10% of the anticipated electrons were found to be free to transfer to the interface of the two materials, with the remaining being bound in the molecular lattice.

"It explains why more than just one layer is necessary to fully unfold the interface properties," Rusydi added.

"If only a part of the electrons migrate to the interface, you need a bigger volume to compensate for the symmetry breaking."

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