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Material matters

Using nanoscale, antiferromagnetic materials, Liu’s most recent work at MIT involves building computer memories.Manganese, for example, is an antiferromagnetic material because its ions have electron spin, making them behave like tiny magnets.

They arrange themselves so that the magnetism cancels out between ions spinning “up” and those spinning “down.”Antiferromagnetic materials can be packed closer together on a memory device, resulting in increased storage capacity because they do not produce magnetic fields.

Liu explains that antiferromagnetic materials are able to switch transistors much more quickly than conventional materials due to their ability to rapidly switch the spin states between “up” and “down.”

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