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Computational projects to investigate novel magnetic phenomena in oxides

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Sheffield United Kingdom Engineering Theoretical Physics

About the Project

A new research area is developing called Spintonics. This means that it is electronics in which both the charge and the spin of the mobile electrons play a role. There are good reasons why the situation that has existed in which the power of conventional electronics increases every year is going to end fairly soon. Spintronics is very likely to become the new vital technology in the future. Hence there is a large interest in this topic worldwide. The standard magnetic materials such as iron and cobalt are not always most suited for integrating with semiconducting devices and so there is an increasing interest in understanding oxide magnets. This has been the focus for an experimental programme in Sheffield for many years. Modern supercomputers have enabled increasingly sophisticated modelling of heterogeneous materials so that modelling of these materials becomes feasible. There are two effects that occur when nanoparticles are incorporated into oxide materials. One is that the magnetism is very strongly enhanced and the other is that the materials can exhibit two different resistance states where a low resistance state is initiated at high voltage but remains stable until a significant reverse voltage is applied. Thus there are two projects in this area both of which will use the same set of modelling codes, CASTEP, one is to investigate the magnetic properties and an oxide in contact with metallic cobalt nanoparticles and the other is to model current flow through an oxide-nanoparticle array. However electronic modelling only takes one so far and there is always a need to combine this with theoretical insights.

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