Researchers at the Czech Academy of Sciences, Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Vienna Technical University (TU Wien), Charles University, Malvern Panalytical B.V., Nuclear Physics Institute CAS and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) recently made an important step that could advance the field of spintronics: they managed to switch the spins in an antiferromagnetic material using surface strain.
"There are different types of magnetism," explains Sergii Khmelevskyi from the Vienna Scientific Cluster Research Center, Vienna Technical University. "The best known is ferromagnetism. It occurs when the atomic spins in a material are all aligned in parallel. But there is also the opposite, antiferromagnetism. In an antiferromagnetic material, neighboring atoms always have opposite spins." Their effects therefore cancel each other out and no magnetic force can be detected from the outside.