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Scientists uncover previously unknown spectrum of magnon excitations in an antiferromagnetic thin film

Scientists uncover previously unknown spectrum of magnon excitations in an antiferromagnetic thin film

Posted Date: 2023-08-04
Scientists uncover previously unknown spectrum of magnon excitations in an antiferromagnetic thin film
The analysis workforce on the SIX beamline. Pictured from left to proper are (backside row) Jiemin Li, Yanhong Gu, Valentina Bisogni, and (prime row) Jonathan Pelliciari. Credit score: Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory

The Zoom display flickered, only for a second, as Valentina Bisogni, Jonathan Pelliciari, and Jiemin Li, three scientists on the Nationwide Synchrotron Gentle Supply II (NSLS-II), shared their pleasure concerning the multi-magnon excitations they found. Their findings have been just lately printed in Bodily Assessment X.

“The magnon excitations we found are attention-grabbing for purposes in info switch as a result of they don’t rely on—,” Pelliciari mentioned, simply earlier than the display froze and the remainder of his clarification was misplaced in our on-line world.

“Johnny, please say that once more. You froze,” Bisogni mentioned.

“For this reason we have to develop gadgets that use magnon excitation—in order that we are able to switch info with out these interruptions,” mentioned Li, with a smile.

To switch info on a pc chip, electrons should transfer from one finish to the opposite, like runners on a well-known however barely bumpy observe. The longer the gap is, the longer the switch takes, and the larger the possibility of dropping info and dissipating vitality. Units that use magnon waves to switch info wouldn’t transfer electrons in any respect. As a substitute, they'd use a property of the electron, referred to as spin, to move info. For this reason this know-how is known as “spintronics.”

An electron’s spin can have totally different instructions. Different electrons can “see” the spin course of their neighbors as in the event that they have been holding a flag. When info must be transferred, the electron both raises or lowers its flag. The following electron mimics the motion, then the subsequent, and so forth. On this approach, the knowledge—or the change in flag place—is handed from electron to electron with none of the electrons having to maneuver.

The analysis workforce, led by Bisogni, is working to grasp the basic habits of the supplies which are wanted to construct spintronics. On this examine, they centered on a widely known materials referred to as hematite, a type of iron oxide, or rust.

“Up to now, hematite has principally been studied in bigger samples (referred to as bulk) or in crystal type,” mentioned Bisogni. “So, it's not a brand new materials. However its potential software in spintronics is new. We are actually learning this materials within the type wherein it could be utilized in potential gadgets. If you wish to make a small machine, it's important to use the fabric as a skinny movie. And we all know from different supplies that some properties, equivalent to magnon switch, change relying on the form of the fabric.”

Hematite has been studied previously as a result of it belongs to an attention-grabbing class of supplies referred to as antiferromagnets.

“Your on a regular basis fridge magnet is a ferromagnet. It has a magnetic subject that we are able to observe,” mentioned Li. “In ferromagnets, all of the spins level in the identical course and create a magnetic subject. In antiferromagnets, the spins level in numerous instructions, so there isn't any subject that we are able to observe. However we are able to see them on the microscopic stage.”

Nevertheless it’s not straightforward to “see” spins in antiferromagnetic supplies, particularly if you wish to see how the spins create totally different magnon waves. The workforce wanted a particular, one-of-a-kind analysis device to measure the habits of magnon waves of their materials.

That device was the Smooth Inelastic X-ray Scattering (SIX) beamline at NSLS-II. NSLS-II is a U.S. Division of Vitality (DOE) Workplace of Science Consumer Facility at DOE’s Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory. The power has 29 operational beamlines that allow researchers to review all kinds of supplies. A beamline is a mix of an X-ray photon supply system and an experimental endstation. A half-mile round accelerator powers the era of the ultrabright X-rays which are the central device for understanding the internal workings of supplies equivalent to hematite.

Of all of the spectacular analysis instruments at NSLS-II, the SIX beamline is exclusive in that the experimental setup is housed in a separate constructing. Inside this constructing, a 49-foot-long arm strikes the detector across the pattern to gather the scattered X-rays after they hit it. On this case, the pattern was the skinny movie of hematite, however SIX can be utilized to review every kind of different strong supplies.

“Utilizing the SIX beamline, we have been capable of measure the spectrum of the magnon waves. The primary mode we discovered was the identical as it could be in bulk materials. That will not sound attention-grabbing, however it's, as a result of it didn’t must be the identical. In our earlier work on a ferromagnetic materials, we discovered that the primary modes have been totally different for skinny movies and bulk. As well as, we have been additionally capable of measure increased modes that we had by no means seen earlier than,” mentioned Bisogni.

Pelliciari added, “That is additionally true for bulk measurements of the fabric. You wouldn't be capable to observe these modes due to a conceptual limitation of different methods which are used to review spins in bulk. Most different methods can solely see as much as the second excitation, however they'll’t go any additional.”

The modes, or excitations, are analogous to the spin positions of the electrons within the supplies, or the positions of the flags talked about earlier, they usually have attribute energies particular to the system. Realizing what vitality a spin mode corresponds to leads researchers and engineers to design higher gadgets.

Detecting these higher-order modes is an actual problem, and the workforce attributes the success to a powerful mixture of excellent depth and vitality decision from the beamline, which is improved by the size of the spectrometer arm on which the detector sits.

“The opposite factor that made this measurement attainable is our triple-rotating flange. It permits us to rotate the spectrometer arm with out breaking the vacuum connection to the pattern chamber, which suggests we are able to get a extra full image of the studied system from totally different geometries,” Li mentioned.

When the X-rays hit the pattern, they scatter like water on an uneven floor and fly off in numerous instructions. Primarily based on these instructions, the researchers can study one thing concerning the materials’s inner construction. On this case, it provides them details about the spin propagation instructions of the electrons. So, the triple-rotating flange allows the researchers to seek out out the instructions the X-ray scatter by transferring across the spectrometer with respect to the pattern.

“One essential factor that we additionally realized from our measurement is that the method behind the multi-magnon excitations is advanced. And since it's advanced, our collaboration with Atshushi Hariki and Jan Kuneš has been important to unravel—from a theoretical standpoint—the mechanism behind all of the interactions at play,” Bisogni mentioned.

The workforce seems ahead to learning extra supplies utilizing the SIX beamline at NSLS-II and different instruments that can assist them proceed to unravel this puzzle.

Supplied by Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory