Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Spintronics


The negatively charged nitrogen vacancy (NV(-)) center in diamond is the focus of widespread attention for applications ranging from quantum information processing to nanoscale metrology. Although most work so far has focused on the NV(-) optical and spin properties, control of the charge state promises complementary opportunities. One intriguing possibility is the long-term storage of information, a notion we hereby introduce using NV-rich, type 1b diamond. As a proof of principle, we use multicolor optical microscopy to read, write, and reset arbitrary data sets with two-dimensional (2D) binary bit density comparable to present digital-video-disk (DVD) technology. Leveraging on the singular dynamics of NV(-) ionization, we encode information on different planes of the diamond crystal with no cross-talk, hence extending the storage capacity to three dimensions. Furthermore, we correlate the center’s charge state and the nuclear spin polarization of the nitrogen host and show that the latter is robust to a cycle of NV(-) ionization and recharge. In combination with super-resolution microscopy techniques, these observations provide a route toward subdiffraction NV charge control, a regime where the storage capacity could exceed present technologies.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Photon, Fundamental physics concepts, Dimension, Microscopy, Spintronics, Computer data storage


The control of nuclear spin polarization is important to the design of materials and algorithms for spin-based quantum computing and spintronics. Towards that end, it would be convenient to control the sign and magnitude of nuclear polarization as a function of position within the host lattice. Here we show that, by exploiting different mechanisms for electron-nuclear interaction in the optical pumping process, we are able to control and image the sign of the nuclear polarization as a function of distance from an irradiated GaAs surface. This control is achieved using a crafted combination of light helicity, intensity and wavelength, and is further tuned via use of NMR pulse sequences. These results demonstrate all-optical creation of micron scale, rewritable patterns of positive and negative nuclear polarization in a bulk semiconductor without the need for ferromagnets, lithographic patterning techniques, or quantum-confined structures.

Concepts: Electron, Optics, Spin, Light, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Gallium arsenide, Germanium, Spintronics


Spin current is the key element for nanoscale spintronic devices. For ultrafast operation of such nano-devices, generation of spin current in picoseconds, a timescale that is difficult to achieve using electrical circuits, is highly desired. Here we show thermally driven ultrafast demagnetization of a perpendicular ferromagnet leads to spin accumulation in a normal metal and spin transfer torque in an in-plane ferromagnet. The data are well described by models of spin generation and transport based on differences and gradients of thermodynamic parameters. The temperature difference between electrons and magnons is the driving force for spin current generation by ultrafast demagnetization. On longer timescales, a few picoseconds following laser excitation, we also observe a small contribution to spin current by a temperature gradient and the spin-dependent Seebeck effect.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Magnetism, Thermodynamics, Spintronics


Ferromagnetic thin films of Heusler compounds are highly relevant for spintronic applications owing to their predicted half-metallicity, that is, 100% spin polarization at the Fermi energy. However, experimental evidence for this property is scarce. Here we investigate epitaxial thin films of the compound Co2MnSi in situ by ultraviolet-photoemission spectroscopy, taking advantage of a novel multi-channel spin filter. By this surface sensitive method, an exceptionally large spin polarization of () % at room temperature is observed directly. As a more bulk sensitive method, additional ex situ spin-integrated high energy X-ray photoemission spectroscopy experiments are performed. All experimental results are compared with advanced band structure and photoemission calculations which include surface effects. Excellent agreement is obtained with calculations, which show a highly spin polarized bulk-like surface resonance ingrained in a half metallic bulk band structure.

Concepts: Scientific method, Spectroscopy, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Semiconductor, Hypothesis, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Spintronics


Spin selectivity in a ferromagnet results from a difference in the density of up- and down-spin electrons at the Fermi energy as a consequence of which the scattering rates depend on the spin orientation of the electrons. This property is utilized in spintronics to control the flow of electrons by ferromagnets in a ferromagnet (F1)/normal metal (N)/ferromagnet (F2) spin valve, where F1 acts as the polarizer and F2 the analyser. The feasibility of superconducting spintronics depends on the spin sensitivity of ferromagnets to the spin of the equal spin-triplet Cooper pairs, which arise in superconductor (S)-ferromagnet (F) heterostructures with magnetic inhomogeneity at the S-F interface. Here we report a critical temperature dependence on magnetic configuration in current-in-plane F-S-F spin valves with a holmium spin mixer at the S-F interface providing evidence of a spin selectivity of the ferromagnets to the spin of the triplet Cooper pairs.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Pauli exclusion principle, Spintronics, Cooper pair


Memristors are one of the most promising candidates for future information and communications technology (ICT) architectures. Two experimental proofs of concept are presented based on the intermixing of spintronic and memristive effects into a single device, a magnetically enhanced memristor (MEM). By exploiting the interaction between the memristance and the giant magnetoresistance (GMR), a universal implication (IMP) logic gate based on a single MEM device is realized.

Concepts: Integrated circuit, Transistor, Logic gate, Spintronics, Magnetoresistance, Giant magnetoresistance, Memristor


MoS2 and related metal dichalcogenides (MoSe2, WS2, WSe2) are layered two-dimensional materials that are promising for nanoelectronics and spintronics. For instance, large spin-orbit coupling and spin splitting in the valence band of single layer (SL) MoS2 could lead to enhanced spin lifetimes and large spin Hall angles. Understanding the nature of the contacts is a critical first step for realizing spin injection and spin transport in MoS2. Here, we have investigated Co contacts to SL MoS2 and find that the Schottky barrier height can be significantly decreased with the addition of a thin oxide barrier (MgO). Further, we show that the barrier height can be reduced to zero by tuning the carrier density with back gate. Therefore, the MgO could simultaneously provide a tunnel barrier to alleviate conductance mismatch while minimizing carrier depletion near the contacts. Such control over the barrier height should allow for careful engineering of the contacts to realize spin injection in these materials.

Concepts: Electron, Condensed matter physics, Semiconductor, Diode, Semiconductors, Spintronics, OSI model, Schottky barrier


For the broadest dissemination of solid-state dynamic nuclear polarization (ssDNP) enhanced NMR as a material characterization tool, the ability to employ generic mono-nitroxide radicals as spin probes is critical. A better understanding of the factors contributing to ssDNP efficiency is needed to rationally optimize the experimental condition for the practically accessible spin probes at hand. This study seeks to advance the mechanistic understanding of ssDNP by examining the effect of electron spin dynamics on ssDNP performance at liquid helium temperatures (4-40 K). The key observation is that bi-radicals and mono-radicals can generate comparable nuclear spin polarization at 4 K and 7 T, which is in contrast to the observation for ssDNP at liquid nitrogen temperatures (80-150 K) that finds bi-radicals to clearly outperform mono-radicals. To rationalize this observation, we analyze the change in the DNP-induced nuclear spin polarization (Pn) and the characteristic ssDNP signal buildup time as a function of electron spin relaxation rates that are modulated by the mono- and bi-radical spin concentration. Changes in Pn are consistent with a systematic variation in the product of the electron spin-lattice relaxation time and the electron spin flip-flop rate that constitutes an integral saturation factor of an inhomogeneously broadened EPR spectrum. We show that the comparable Pn achieved with both radical species can be reconciled with a comparable integral EPR saturation factor. Surprisingly, the largest Pn is observed at an intermediate spin concentration for both mono- and bi-radicals. At the highest radical concentration, the stronger inter-electron spin dipolar coupling favors ssDNP, while oversaturation diminishes Pn, as experimentally verified by the observation of a maximum Pn at an intermediate, not the maximum, microwave (μw) power. At the maximum μw power, oversaturation reduces the electron spin population differential that must be upheld between electron spins that span a frequency difference matching the (1)H NMR frequency-characteristic of the cross effect DNP. This new mechanistic insight allows us to rationalize experimental conditions where generic mono-nitroxide probes can offer competitive ssDNP performance to that of custom designed bi-radicals, and thus helps to vastly expand the application scope of ssDNP for the study of functional materials and solids.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, Spintronics, Electron magnetic dipole moment


Pure spin current, a flow of spin angular momentum without flow of any accompanying net charge, is generated in two common ways. One makes use of the spin Hall effect in normal metals (NM) with strong spin-orbit coupling, such as Pt or Ta. The other utilizes the collective motion of magnetic moments or spin waves with the quasi-particle excitations called magnons. A popular material for the latter is yttrium iron garnet, a magnetic insulator (MI). Here we demonstrate in NM/MI/NM trilayers that these two types of spin currents are interconvertible across the interfaces, predicated as the magnon-mediated current drag phenomenon. The transmitted signal scales linearly with the driving current without a threshold and follows the power-law T(n) with n ranging from 1.5 to 2.5. Our results indicate that the NM/MI/NM trilayer structure can serve as a scalable pure spin current valve device which is an essential ingredient in spintronics.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Angular momentum, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Condensed matter physics, Electric current, Spintronics


We study spin transport in a fully hBN encapsulated monolayer-graphene van der Waals heterostructure at room temperature. A top-layer of bilayer-hBN is used as a tunnel barrier for spin-injection and detection in graphene with ferromagnetic cobalt electrodes. We report surprisingly large and bias-induced (differential) spin-injection (detection) polarizations up to 50% (135%) at a positive voltage bias of + 0.6 V, as well as sign inverted polarizations up to -70% (-60%) at a reverse bias of -0.4 V. This demonstrates the potential of bilayer-hBN tunnel barriers for practical graphene spintronics applications. With such enhanced spin-injection and detection polarizations, we report a record two-terminal (inverted) spin-valve signals up to 800 Ω with a magnetoresistance ratio of 2.7%, and achieve spin accumulations up to 4.1 meV. We propose how these numbers can be increased further, for future technologically relevant graphene based spintronic devices.In 2D spin-valve devices, effective spin injection and detection can be potentially realised combining graphene with an ideal hBN tunnel barrier. Here, the authors report that a bilayer hBN tunnel barrier allows up to 100% spin-injection and detection in a fully hBN-encapsulated graphene heterostructure.

Concepts: Electron, Electric potential, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Magnetism, Spintronics, Barriers, Giant magnetoresistance