Tunable magnetic properties in manganese-doped nanowires|
In December 1959, the physicist Richard Feynman gave an inspiring lecture titled “There’s plenty of room at the bottom” where the Nobel Prize winner considered the possibility to manipulate materials at the atomic and nanoscale level, thus predicting the advent of nanotechnology. A field of research that largely relies on nanotechnology is spintronics, also known as spin electronics.
While conventional electronics relies on the electrical charge of the electrons moving in a semiconductor, spintronic exploits another fundamental property, the “spin”. Electrons’ spin can have two orientations, “up” or “down” and it can be influenced, and thus changed, by a magnetic field. Therefore, spintronic research has a strong focus on materials with specific and tunable magnetic properties. The long-term dream is the construction of a new generation of spintronic devices, which would be smaller, faster, and less energy-consuming.
Dr. Katarzyna Hnida-Gut and colleagues, led by Prof. Marek Przybylski, from the AGH University of Science and Technology, published a research that reports the successful synthesis of manganese-doped nanowires made of indium antimonide. A pulse electrodeposition technique allowed for the preparation of the nanowires in which the magnetic response could be easily tuned by varying the concentration of the dopant. X-ray absorption spectroscopy allowed for the determination of the chemical state and the local structure of the material. This technique was executed at the PEEM/XAS beamline at the Polish CERIC partner facility at the National Synchrotron Radiation Centre SOLARIS in Krakow.
The study shows that the electrodeposition technique is a straightforward way to produce large amounts of high-quality nanowires with tunable magnetic properties, which exhibited a ferromagnetic response at room temperature and above. Ferromagnets, once influenced by a magnetic field, can hold the “information” without further inputs, thus allowing to store that information without keeping electrons moving as in current electronic devices, such as RAM memories. Moreover, the possibility to provide these features at room temperature and above makes future spintronic devices closer to real-life applications.