Researchers from MIT and colleagues from the US, Germany France and India discovered that when you combine a topological insulator (bismuth selenide) with a magnetic material (europium sulfide) you create a material that one can can control its magnetic properties. The new material retains the electronic property of the topological insulator and also the full magnetization capabilities of the magnetic material.

Ferromagnetic insulator and topological insulator (MIT)

The researchers were surprised by the stability of that effect - in fact the material exhibited those great properties at room temperatures, which means that this hybrid material can be used to create spintronics devices.

In fact this research could pave the way towards the development of magnetic interactions at the interfaces between materials. This could lead, for example, to magnetic memory devices which could store information at the level of individual molecules. The researchers call the new effect "proximity-induced magnetism".