2D material gives birth to a new form of Magnetism

-By Mridul Sinha

illustration of FePS3 structure
Credit University of Cambridge

A recent discovery of the study of superconductivity has brought us to a new horizon in the understanding of magnetic states. It reveals a strange phenomenon that occurs in the 2D world of quantum. A new type of magnetism has been discovered in the quantum world of 2D materials. A group from Cambridge university unveils the new phenomena of  magnetism in 2D material known as ‘magnetic graphene’

What is magnetic graphene?

So what is magnetic graphene? It is also called FePS3 that is similar to graphene, a carbon allotrope of single-layer atom-sheet, which is conductive, strong, and flexible. The difference between FePS3 and 2D graphene is that the former is magnetic while the latter isn’t.

Metal under high pressure

The Cambridge team led the experiment of applying enough pressure on FePS3 resulting in a metallic state.

Pressure-temperature phase diagram for FePS3

It also undergoes a transition from an insulator to a conductor.The scientist also believes that applying high-pressure techniques could be a precursor to the phase shift in superconductivity.

It’s a fact that matter can change in properties under high pressures, scientists are certain that it occurs when properties are changed dimensionally.

For example, coal and diamond are made of the same atom carbon but when applied with the same pressure give us different structure, dimensionality, and properties.

By adding magnetism to the matter can change the properties.” But imagine if you were also able to change all of these properties by adding magnetism,” said first author Dr. Matthew Coak. Coak and his colleague Sebastian Haines from Cavendish laboratory had already found magnetic graphene FePS3 becomes metal under high pressure.

The team also managed to capture crystal structure and atomic arrangements of 2D material during the whole process.

New technique to draw magnetism out of FePS3

RESEARCHERS FOUND 2D MAGNETIC MATERIALS CAN CHANGE FROM INSULATOR TO CONDUCTOR IF APPLIED ENOUGH PRESSURE.

To test how magnetic graphene evolve from Metallic into the magnetic state, researchers placed 2D materials under high pressure that broke the record, with custom-made diamond anvil and neutrons as probes.

“The missing piece has remained however, the magnetism,” said Coak

To their team’s surprise, they found magnetism not only survived but strengthened it in some ways.

In previous papers published in physical letter reviews, the team also discovered that the interaction between the electrons increased as the flow was induced towards the frozen electrons.

That results in it acquiring new quantum properties and becoming new material with magnetic properties altogether.

The key for magnetic materials

Any material properties depend on how the electrons move around it, and magnetic qualiities depend on the spin of the electron.

Spin is a very different quantum property and unlike angular momentum where electrons align in a similar direction.

“We don’t know exactly what’s happening at the quantum level, but at the same time, we can manipulate it,” said Saxena

Therefore, development in the processing of data, storage, even in computing. Spin and manipulation of it is a crucial key for further advancement.

Making the next leap in understanding of dimensional magnetism and superconductivity will help better understand the fundamentals that will allow researchers to come up with energy efficiency materials.

Due to the discovery of how high pressure can induce such outcomes in graphene material, researchers can well predict, and can adjust some properties for desirable materials.

The team will also explore and experiment with chemical composition to reduce the pressure needed to come up with the magnetic formation.

Hopefully, this could also solve the decade-old problem regarding superconductivity.

Application of magnetic graphene

Spintronics also can be dissected into Spin + electronics, the study of fundamental electron movements, magnetic moment, and electronic charge in solid-state devices. It is very different from traditional electronics, spins manipulation is exploited with freedom with implications of efficiency in data storage and data transfer technology.

In the past 4 years, various devices were designed based on 2D materials, such as

  • spin-based transistors.
  • semiconductor lasers.
  • Antiferromagnetic storage devices.
  • spintronics-logic devices.

This new form of magnetism has brought more possibilities into the application of 2D material.

References:

https://journals.aps.org/prx/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevX.11.011024

https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/magnetic-graphene-forms-a-new-kind-of-magnetism

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