Researchers Map Magnetic Fields in 3D, Findings Could Improve Device Storage Capacity

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Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have mapped magnetic fields in three dimensions, a major step toward solving what they call the “grand challenge” of revealing the 3D magnetic configuration in magnetic materials. The work has implications for improving diagnostic imaging and the capacity of storage devices.

“The number three really represents a breakthrough in this field,” said Jiadong Zang, an associate professor of physics. “Our brain is a three-dimensional object. It is ironic that all our devices are two-dimensional. They are less efficient than our brains.”

The study, recently published in the journal Natural materials, provides the results of three years of high-performance numerical simulations, mapping a three-dimensional structure of a 100-nanometer magnetic tetrahedron sample using only three electron beam projection angles. Zang cites CT medical imaging, or CT scans, as an example. Instead of sending multiple x-ray beams to map body tissues, the same images could be produced with just three beams.

Reducing exposure to electron beams in fast three-dimensional magnetic imaging is a potential application for this collaborative research. The researchers’ findings also have implications for improving the storage capacity of magnetic memory devices, which currently deposit circuits on two-dimensional panels that approach maximum density.

The method offered by this research will be a useful tool for detecting and characterizing three-dimensional magnetic circuits.

Zang and Alexander Booth, a former UNH doctoral student, conducted the theoretical analysis. Researchers from Japan and the University of Wisconsin performed the physical experiments. Funds from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES) under award number DE-SC0020221 helped support Zang and Booth’s contributions to this research.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, our nation, and the world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries collaborate with award-winning faculty in top-tier programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts, and science in more than 200 degree programs. A Carnegie R1 institution, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF, and NIH, and received $260 million in competitive external funding in FY21 to explore and further defining the boundaries of land, sea and space.

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Material provided by University of New Hampshire. Original written by Beth Potier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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