Ferromagnetism has been a bedrock of technological development throughout the information technology era, with audio, video, and data recording at various times each involving the manipulation of ferromagnetic domains. Spintronics similarly owes its origins to the control, exploitation, and application of ferromagnetism. Yet ferromagnets are a less common form of magnetic material than their antiferromagnetic “siblings” -- antiferromagnetism is more prevalent but its application has been stymied by the much lower sensitivity of antiferromagnetic domains to external fields.
There has, however, been an exceptionally rapid growth of interest worldwide in the exploitation of antiferromagnetism in spintronic devices over the last few years , stimulated by the recognition that electrical currents, rather than external magnetic fields, can be used to both detect and manipulate antiferromagnetic (AF) order. The University of Nottingham and the Diamond Light Source are very much at the forefront of this activity [4-7], gaining key insights into the spatially-resolved dynamics of AF domains in CuMnAs† via photoelectron emission microscopy combined with X-ray magnetic linear dichroism
We are currently exploring a variety of areas at the interface of nanoscience and spintronics, partnering both with the Nottingham Spintronics group and Diamond Light Source, Oxford.
Primarily, we have recently begun a PhD studentship to extend the imaging and spectromicroscopy of antiferromagnetic domain texture all the way down to the single spin limit using scanning probe microscopy (SPM), complemented by aberration-corrected PEEM measurements‡ providing spin, chemical, structural, and temporal information not accessible via SPM.
As part of this project, the group will soon commission a USM1300 low temperature/15T magnetic field STM from Unisoku, to go along with our Createc LT and 3 Scienta Omicron SPM systems.