Scientists Create Magnetic Texture in Graphene

March 27, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino

Scientists from the University at Buffalo (UB) have reportedly induced “artificial magnetic texture” in graphene

The study is named “Remote Mesoscopic Signatures of Induced Magnetic Texture in Graphene” and was published in Physical Review Letters, on 25 February 2021.

Its finding paved the way for potential spintronics applications, including extremely more powerful semiconductors, computers, and other devices.


Eight electrodes placed around a 20-nanometer-thick magnet. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo.
Eight electrodes placed around a 20-nanometer-thick magnet. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo.


Correlating Magnetism to Graphene

According to the new paper, the UB researchers positioned a 20-nanometer-thick magnet in direct contact with a sheet of graphene.

For context, graphene is composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice less than one nanometer thick.

“To give you a sense of the size difference, it’s a bit like putting a brick on a sheet of paper,” said the study’s senior author Jonathan Bird, professor and chair of electrical engineering at the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In order to measure the conductivity between graphene and magnet, the researchers then placed eight electrodes in different spots around them and noticed how the magnet induced an artificial magnetic texture in the graphene that remained even in areas of the graphene further away from the magnet. 

In other words, the contact between the two objects caused the carbon, which is normally nonmagnetic, to exhibit magnetic properties.

In addition, the experiment also revealed that these properties could overwhelm completely the natural properties of the graphene, even when looking several microns away from the materials’ contact point.

This phenomenon was defined by the UB team as “artificial magnetic texture”.


Toward Spintronics Applications

According to lead author Nargess Arabchigavkani, both graphene and spintronics possess the potential to substantially affect several applications, both commercial and industrial ones. 

“But if you can blend the two together, the synergistic effects are likely to be something this world hasn’t yet seen,” she explained.

Arabchigavkani conducted the new research as a Ph.D. candidate at UB and is now a postdoctoral research associate at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

Her team’s findings now raise relevant questions related to the microscopic origins of the magnetic texture in graphene.

Moreover, according to Bird, the new research also showcases the extent to which the induced magnetic behavior arises from the influence of spin polarization and/or spin-orbit coupling.

This is particularly remarkable when considering that these phenomena are traditionally connected to the magnetic properties of materials and the emerging technology of spintronics.

For context, spintronic devices differ from traditional electronics as they do not function through the electrical charge carried by electrons, but the unique quantum property of electrons known as spin.

This holds the potential to hold more data into smaller devices, thus increasing the capacity of semiconductors, quantum computers, mass storage devices, and other electronics.


An International Research Team

The University at Buffalo scientist’s team was assisted by experts from a variety of institutions.

These include King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in Thailand, Chiba University in Japan, University of Science and Technology of China, University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Nebraska Lincoln, and Uppsala University in Sweden.

The research was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, with additional support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, nCORE, the Swedish Research Council, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

For more information about the study, you can follow this link here.