Disorder brings out quantum physical talents

Quantum effects are most noticeable at extremely low temperatures, which limits their usefulness for technical applications. Thin films of MnSb2Te4, however, show new talents due to a small excess of manganese. Apparently, the resulting disorder provides spectacular properties: The material proves to be a topological insulator and is ferromagnetic up to comparatively high temperatures of 50 Kelvin, measurements at BESSY II show.  This makes this class of material suitable for quantum bits, but also for spintronics in general or applications in high-precision metrology.

Quantum effects such as the anomalous quantum Hall effect enable sensors of highest sensitivity, are the basis for spintronic components in future information technologies and also for qubits in quantum computers of the future. However, as a rule, the quantum effects relevant for this only show up clearly enough to make use of them at very low temperatures near absolute zero and in special material systems.

Read more on the HZB website

Image: The Dirac cone is typical for topological insulators and is practically unchanged on all 6 images (ARPES measurements at BESSY II). The blue arrow additionally shows the valence electrons in the volume. The synchrotron light probes both and can thus distinguish the Dirac cone at the surface (electrically conducting) from the three-dimensional volume (insulating).

Credit: © HZB

Comprehensive study of strontium hexaferrite platelets

Researchers have synthesized and studied by a combination of soft X-ray techniques platelets of strontium hexaferrite allowing them to establish the differences and similarities between their synthesized nanostructures and commercial powders.

Most of the experiments have been performed within a collaboration among three beamlines of the ALBA Synchrotron.
Ferrites are ceramic materials usually made of large proportions of iron oxide (Fe2O3, rust) blended with small proportions of other metallic elements. These materials do not conduct electricity because they are insulators; and they are ferromagnetic, which means they can easily be magnetized or attracted to a magnet.

Strontium ferrites (SFO, SrFe12O19) in particular have a large magnetocrystalline anisotropy that gives it a high coercitivity, meaning that it is difficult to demagnetize. Since its discovery in the mid-20th century, this hexagonal ferrite has become an increasingly important material both commercially and technologically, finding a variety of uses and applications because of its low cost and toxicity. SFO has been used for permanent magnets, recording media, in telecommunications, and as a component in microwave, high-frequency and magneto-optical devices. Also, because they can be powdered and formed easily, they are finding their applications into micro and nano-types systems such as biomarkers, bio diagnostics and biosensors.

>Read more on the ALBA website

Magnetization ratchet in cylindrical nanowires

A team of researchers from Materials Science Institute of Madrid (CSIC), University of Barcelona and ALBA Synchrotron reported on magnetization ratchet effect observed for the first time in cylindrical magnetic nanowires (magnetic cylinders with diameters of 120nm and lengths of over 20µm).

These nanowires are considered as building blocks for future 3D (vertical) electronic and information storage devices as well as for applications in biological sensing and medicine. The experiments have been carried out at the CIRCE beamline of the ALBA Synchrotron. The results are published in ACS Nano.

The magnetic ratchet effect, which represents a linear or rotary motion of domain walls in only one direction preventing it in the opposite one, originates in the asymmetric energy barrier or pinning sites. Up to now it has been achieved only in limited number of lithographically engineered planar nanostructures. The aim of the experiment was to design and prove the one-directional propagation of magnetic domain walls in cylindrical nanowires.

>Read more on the ALBA website

Image: (extract) Unidirectional propagation of magnetization as seen in micromagnetic simulations and XMCD-PEEM experiments. See entire image here.