A team of international physicists is working on a new technology that could one day replace computer hard drives:
Guido Meier at the University of Hamburg in Germany and colleagues used nanosecond pulses of electric current to push magnetic regions along a wire at 110 metres per second - a hundred times faster than was previously possible.
By contrast, today's hard drives rely on the much slower spinning motion of a disk to move magnetic regions - and the data encoded by these regions - past a component that can change or "read" this magnetic information.
"If you want to make a hard drive, operating speed is an important factor," says Meier. "The idea is also to get rid of the mechanical parts, so there's much less wear and tear, and devices can become more robust."
The idea of moving magnetically-stored data electronically has been touted before. Stuart Parkin at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, patented a similar concept called a magnetic "racetrack" in 2004.