Researchers succeed in imaging a bulk skyrmion lattice

Researchers from the University of Waterloo, NIST and McMaster University have used neutron imaging and a reconstruction algorithm to reveal for the first time the 3D shapes and dynamics of skyrmions in bulk materials.

The combined image reveals the shape and length of the skyrmion tubes, which vary in response to defects encountered in the surrounding material lattice. Credit:, adapted from Nature Physics (2023)

The team is exploring a promising spintronic candidate, a magnetic skyrmion, which is a vortex-like formation of atoms. It arises naturally in certain kinds of atomic lattices in response to magnetic and electrical properties of the surrounding atoms. Skyrmions are typically in the range of 20 to 200 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in size. 

Read the full story Posted: Sep 28,2023

New spintronics manufacturing process could become new industry standard for semiconductors chips

University of Minnesota researchers, along with a team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), recently developed a novel process for making spintronic devices that may have the potential to become the new industry standard for semiconductors chips that are essential to computers, smartphones and many other electronics. The new process will allow for faster, more efficient spintronics devices that can be scaled down smaller than ever before. ​​

“We believe we’ve found a material and a device that will allow the semiconducting industry to move forward with more opportunities in spintronics that weren’t there before for memory and computing applications,” said Jian-Ping Wang, senior author of the paper and professor in the College of Science and Engineering.

Read the full story Posted: Mar 21,2023

The US NIST to establish a $10 million spintronics material research facility in Minnesota

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its partners in the US Nanoelectronic Computing Research (nCORE) consortium have awarded $10.3 million over four years to establish a spintronics research center in Mineesota.

The Center for Spintronic Materials in Advanced Information Technologies (SMART) will be led by and housed at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and will include researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.

Read the full story Posted: Nov 06,2018

Researchers discover a metallic antiferromagnet with a large magneto-optic Kerr effect

Researchers from the NIST in the US and the University of Tokyo have discovered a metallic antiferromagnet (Mn3Sn) that exhibits a large magneto-optic Kerr (MOKE) effect, despite a vanishingly small net magnetization at room temperature.

MOKE measurements in non-collinear antiferromagnets

Compared to ferromagnetic materials, metallic antiferromagnets allow for faster dynamics and more densely packed spintronic devices due to the weak interactions between antiferromagnetic cells. The researchers believe that such materials hold promise for future antiferromagnetic spintronic devices, where the magnetic state could transduced optically and switched either optically or by applying current.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 30,2018

New microscope can measure the collective dynamics of elecrons spins

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a new microscope, called a heterodyne magneto-optic microwave microscope (H-MOMM) that can measure the collective dynamics of elecrons spins. The microscope can measure the spin in individual magnets as small as 100 nanometers in diameter.

The NIST researchers used the H-MOMM to quantify, for the first time, the spin relaxation process—or damping—in individual nanomagnets. The results suggest that designing spintronic devices to have uniform spin waves could dramatically reduce the energy required to write a bit. They say that these results are "groundbreaking".

Read the full story Posted: Mar 17,2013

New "MRAM for biomolecules" microchip concept developed using microfluidics and spin valves

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado Boulder (CU) developed a new chip that uses microfluidics and magnetic switches to trap and transport magnetic beads. This low-power device may be useful for medical devices. This technology may also lead us towards "MRAM" chips used for molecular and cellular manipulation.

In the past, magnetic particle transport chips required continuous power and even cooling. This new technology manages to overcome the power and heat issues, and offers random-access two-dimensional control and non-volatile memory. The prototype chip uses 12 spin valves (commonly used as magnetic sensors in HD read heads) which are optimized for magnetic trapping. Pulses of electric current are used to switch individual spin valve magnets “on” to trap a bead, or “off” to release it, and thereby move the bead down a ladder formed by the two lines. The beads start out suspended in salt water above the valves before being trapped in the array.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 22,2011

New custom-made material enables important oxide spintronics measurements

Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a new custom-made material that enabled them to performs measurements important for the emerging field of oxide spintronics.

The team engineered a highly ordered version of a magnetic oxide compound that naturally has two randomly distributed elements: lanthanum and strontium. The team members from ANL have mastered a technique for laying down the oxides one atomic layer at a time, allowing them to construct an exceptionally organized lattice in which each layer contains only strontium or lanthanum, so that the interface between the two components could be studied.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 20,2011

New theory generalizes spin transfer torques, total angular momentum current, and mechanical torques

Paul Haney and Mark Stiles from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) developed a new theory of current-induced torques that generalizes the relationship between spin transfer torques, total angular momentum current, and mechanical torques. This new theory is also applicable to more materials than previous theories.

The basic idea is that there are two types of current-induced torques: a mechanical torque acting on the lattice, and a spin transfer torque (STT) acting on the magnetization. STT is a known phenomenon that is the basic of several technologies such as STT-MRAM and nanoscale microwave oscillators.

Read the full story Posted: Dec 09,2010

Researchers Discover Widely Sought Property in Magnetic Semiconductor

Researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated for the first time the existence of a key magnetic—as opposed to electronic—property of specially built semiconductor devices. This discovery raises hopes for even smaller and faster gadgets that could result from magnetic data storage in a semiconductor material, which could then quickly process the data through built-in logic circuits controlled by electric fields.

In a new paper, researchers from NIST, Korea University and the University of Notre Dame have confirmed theorists’ hopes that thin magnetic layers of semiconductor material could exhibit a prized property known as antiferromagnetic coupling—in which one layer spontaneously aligns its magnetic pole in the opposite direction as the next magnetic layer. The discovery of antiferromagnetic coupling in metals was the basis of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics, but it is only recently that it has become conceivable for semiconductor materials. Semiconductors with magnetic properties would not only be able to process data, but also store it.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 06,2009