Researchers from EPFL and PSI discovered a new material class, which they term multiferroic Rashba semiconductors, that have promising spintronics properties.

The researchers started with a study on the electronic and spin structure of a material made of thin films of Germanium and Tellurium (GeTe) doped with Manganese (Mn). Using photoemission, the researchers were able to study these materials for the first time. It was found that the combination of spin-orbit interaction and magnetism produces some exotic properties.

Specifically, the electric and magnetic properties are directly linked - which means that when electricity is switched, the magnetic properties are affected - and vice versa. This is interesting for spintronic devices in which magnetic orientation can be switched with a small electric field.