Scientists Create World’s Thinnest Magnet – Just One Atom Thick!

Development Of Ultra-Thin Magnet That Operate At Room Temperature Has The Potential To Lead To New Applications In Computing And Electronics.

By Jules Menten

Developed by Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, single-atom thin 2D magnets have the potential to advance new applications in computing and electronics. The Development Of Ultra-Thin Magnets That Operate At Room Temperature Has The Potential To Lead To New Applications In Computing And Electronics, such as high-density and compact spintronics memory devices, and new tools for quantum physics research.

Ultra-thin magnet recently published in the journal Nature CommunicationsHas the potential to make significant advances in next-generation memory devices, computing, spintronics, and quantum physics. It was discovered by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Institute) of the Department of Energy and the University of California, Berkeley.

“We were the first to manufacture a 2D magnet at room temperature that is chemically stable under ambient conditions,” said the faculty science department of the Materials Science Department at the Berkeley Institute, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Said senior author Jie Yao. “This discovery is exciting not only to enable 2D magnetism at room temperature, but also to uncover new mechanisms for achieving 2D magnetic materials,” said a graduate student at the Yao Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley. Yes, study.

The magnetic components of today’s memory devices are usually made of magnetic thin films. But at the atomic level, these materials are still three-dimensional, with a thickness of hundreds or thousands of atoms. For decades, researchers have sought ways to create thinner, smaller 2D magnets that can store data at much higher densities. Past achievements in the field of 2D magnetic materials have yielded promising results. However, these early 2D magnets lose their magnetism and become chemically unstable at room temperature.

“State-of-the-art 2D magnets require very low temperatures to function, but for practical reasons, data centers need to operate at room temperature,” says Yao. “Our 2D magnet is not only the first magnet to operate above room temperature, but also the first magnet to reach the true 2D limit. It’s as thin as an atom!” Researchers say their findings will also open up new opportunities to study quantum physics. “It opens every single atom for testing that may reveal how quantum physics governs each single magnetic atom and the interaction between them,” Yao said. Said.

Creating a 2D magnet that can take away heat

Researchers have synthesized a new 2D magnet called the cobalt-doped van der Waals zinc oxide magnet from a solution of graphene, zinc, and cobalt. After just a few hours of baking in a traditional lab oven, the mixture turned into a single atomic layer of zinc oxide with a few cobalt atoms sandwiched between the layers of graphene.

In the final step, graphene burns out, leaving only a single atomic layer of cobalt-doped zinc oxide. “In our material, there are no major obstacles for the industry to adopt our solution-based method,” says Yao. “It has the potential to be expanded for mass production at low cost.”

To confirm that the resulting 2D film is only one atom thick, Yao and his team conducted scanning electron microscopy experiments at the Berkeley Institute’s molecular foundry to identify the morphology of the material. Then, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging was performed to examine the material atom by atom.

X-ray experiments at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source characterized the magnetic parameters of 2D materials at high temperatures. Additional X-ray experiments with the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Source at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory verified the electronic and crystal structures of the synthesized 2D magnets. At the Nanoscale Materials Center at Argonne National Laboratory, researchers used TEMs to image the crystal structure and chemical composition of 2D materials.

Researchers have discovered that the graphene-zinc oxide system becomes weakly magnetic at 5-6% concentrations of cobalt atoms. Increasing the concentration of cobalt atoms to about 12% gives a very strong magnet. Surprisingly, when the concentration of cobalt atoms exceeds 15%, the 2D magnet transitions to a “frustrated” exotic quantum state, where the various magnetic states in the 2D system compete with each other.

Also, unlike previous 2D magnets that lose magnetism above room temperature, researchers have found that new 2D magnets work not only at room temperature, but also at 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). “Our 2D magnetic system shows a clearer mechanism compared to previous 2D magnets,” Chen said. “And I think this unique mechanism is due to the free electrons of zinc oxide.”

True north: Free electrons put magnetic atoms in orbit

When you tell your computer to save a file, that information is stored in your computer’s magnetic memory, such as a magnetic hard drive or flash memory, as a series of 1s and 0s. And, like all magnets, magnetic memory devices contain fine magnets with two poles, north and south, whose orientation follows the direction of the external magnetic field. When these small magnets flip in the desired direction, the data is written or encoded.

According to Chen, the free electrons in zinc oxide act as an intermediary to ensure that the magnetic cobalt atoms in the new 2D device continue to point in the same direction, even if the host (in this case, semiconductor zinc oxide) points in the same direction. May function as. Non-magnetic material.

“Free electrons are components of electric current. They move in the same direction and conduct electricity,” Yao adds, adding that the movement of free electrons in metals and semiconductors is the flow of water molecules in the flow of water. Compared with.

The new material can be bent into almost any shape without breaking, is one millionth as thin as a piece of paper, and is an application of spin electronics or spintronics, a new technology that uses the spin orientation of electrons. May help promote. More than the charge for encoding the data. “Our 2D magnets may enable the formation of microscopic spintronics devices for manipulating electron spins,” Chen said.

“I think the discovery of this new robust true two-dimensional magnet at room temperature is a true breakthrough,” said co-author, senior scientist at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Materials Science, at the University of California, Berkeley. Robert Birgenault, a professor of physics at the school, said. Who co-led the research?

“Our results are even better than we expected, and it’s really exciting. For most science, experiments can be very difficult,” says Yao. “But when you finally realize something new, it’s always very fulfilling.”

This news was originally published at California News Times.

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