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Scientists prove 'quantum theory' that could lead to ultrafast magnetic computing

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For the first time, scientists have magnetized a non-magnetic material at room temperature, inducing a quantum property that they say could pave the way for ultra-fast computing.

The "switchable" magnetic field could one day be used to store and transmit information. This was something previously only possible at ultracold temperatures.

The results pave the way for "ultra-fast magnetic switches that can be used for faster information transfer and considerably better data storage, and for computers that are significantly faster and more energy-efficient,” study lead author, Alexander Balatsky, professor of physics at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA), said in a statement.

Scientists have long wanted to harness the weird laws of quantum mechanics to improve computing systems, for example in quantum computing. But quantum states are delicate, and can easily fall apart, or "decohere," thanks to noise such as thermal vibration, or the random jiggling of atoms. 

Related: Weird magnetic 'skyrmion' quasiparticle could be used as a bit in advanced computing memory

To get around this, researchers aiming to create quantum behavior typically cool their materials to near absolute zero. But that makes such systems difficult to maintain and operate.

In 2017, Balatsky and colleagues laid out a theoretical approach to generating a quantum state, called "dynamic multiferroicity," in which electrical polarization induced magnetism in a non-magnetic material. The process involves stirring up titanium atoms in a material in such a way that they generate a magnetic field. 

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