Scientists find ordered magnetic patterns in disordered magnetic material
Tests revealed a dominant chirality in the magnetic properties of domain walls that may be flipped, enabling spintronics and variant fields of research.

Leah Williams | 4 hours ago

The Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) science team has confirmed an exclusive property, known as chirality, which may be exploited to transmit and store data in nanometers.

The scientific community is searching for new ways to revolutionize electronics by designing materials and methods to control other inherent electron traits, such as their orbits around atoms and their spin, which can be thought of as a compass needle tuned to face in different directions.

The chirality can enable more reliable and less complex data storage by facilitating spintronics. Spintronics-driven devices could generate less heat and require less power than conventional devices.

In the latest study, detailed in the May 23 online edition of the journal Advanced Materials, scientists working at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry and Advanced Light Source (ALS) confirmed a chirality, or handedness, in the transition regionscalled domain wallsbetween neighboring magnetic domains that have opposite spins.

Experiments uncovered a dominant chirality in the magnetic properties of these domain walls that could possibly be flipped to its opposite. Such a flipping mechanism is a critical enabling technology for spintronics and variant fields of research that are based on the electron's spin property.

The science team worked to identify the right thickness, concentration, and layering of elements, and other factors to optimize this chiral effect.

"Now we have proof that we can have chiral magnetism in amorphous thin films, which no one had shown before," said Robert Streubel, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division. The success of the experiments, he said, opens the possibility of controlling some properties of domain walls, such as chirality, with temperature, and of switching a material's chiral properties with light.

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