A light-induced spin switching device with promising applications in spintronics

A research work led by the University of Valencia (Spain) has reported the fabrication of a novel device that allows the robust electrical detection of a fast and effective light-induced and thermally induced spin transition with an outstanding performance. It represents a tool with promising potential for generating new systems with applications in spintronics and straintronics. Experiments carried out at the BOREAS beamline have been crucial in this study.

The search for more efficient data transport and storage methodologies has helped the development of new research areas, such as molecular spintronics. This novel discipline uses molecular compounds as functional materials in a new generation of devices in which the information tool used is not only the charge (electrons) transport but also the spin. The spin is an intrinsic property of electrons (as mass or electric charge). By adding this new variable of information transport, it is possible to create more efficient electronic devices with a larger capacity for data processing.

There is an increasing demand for discovering new compounds that are functional for spintronics and allow for industrial scalability in its processing. Sublimable spin-crossover (SCO) molecules are compounds of great interest in this matter. These materials can switch between two states called low-spin and high-spin, depending on a variety of external stimuli such as light or temperature. More specifically, compounds based on iron (II) present opposite magnetic properties between both states; paramagnetic in high-spin and diamagnetic in low-spin.

In a novel study published in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers from the Molecular Science Institut (ICMol) from the University of Valencia (UV) in Spain, in collaboration with members from the BOREAS beamline at the ALBA Synchrotron, have developed spin-crossover/graphene hybrid devices by incorporating films of an iron (II) based material, with the properties aforementioned, in its metastable crystallographic phase. Previously thought to be inert regarding spin-crossover, the work developed at the BOREAS beamline has allowed the discovery of interesting thermal and light-induced spin transition capabilities that this crystallographic phase does show when appropriately isolated.

Read more on the ALBA website