In an experiment at the National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University, scientists used an electric probe to "treat" a non-magnetic surface with a positive electric field. It turned out that the electric field aligns the spins of electrons (spin - intrinsic angular momentum of elementary particles) in non-magnetic materials, giving them magnetic properties.
The experiment showed that an electric field can not only endow a non-magnetic material with magnetic properties, but also remove them at the right time. The results obtained will form the basis for the creation of new generation hard disks, as well as other magnetic storage devices. One of the research leaders, Hendrik Oldag, said:
"The technology will help design new types of storage devices with layers of information that can be controlled using an electric field, not a magnetic field, as it is now."
The magnetic properties of materials are determined by the orientation of the electron spins. In ferromagnets, still used in conventional hard drives, all the spins are aligned in the same direction. They are controlled by a magnetic field, rotating them from north to south, which allows information to be stored in the form of ones and zeros.