Information technologies are rapidly evolving. We need more powerful computers, larger data storage capabilities, and faster reading, writing, and digital data processing. Therefore, we are in a continuous quest to shrink the size of memory elements and find more efficient ways to process the data without compromising an increasing energy and material cost. Spintronics offers one of the most viable solutions to these endeavors, and consequently, has become a prominent field of research in the past 35 years.
Spintronics employs a fundamental property of a fundamental particle: the spin of an electron. Spin is an intrinsic angular momentum, a purely quantum property that does not have a classical counterpart. In a simplified picture, you can think of an electron as a tiny magnet with north and south poles where the orientation can represent ‘0’ and ‘1’ in a binary data system. Additionally, spins can be manipulated within a material using external stimuli (magnetic field, electric field, temperature gradient, etc.), thereby providing a powerful platform to execute all of the tasks required in digital data management.
The discovery of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in the late 1980s has initiated the spintronics research officially. The GMR and later on tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) effects have provided relevant electrical tools to read the data in hard disk drives and revolutionized the magnetic recording industry (see the Nobel Prize in Physics 2007). Since then, spintronics research has evolved into an interdisciplinary field encompassing physics, materials science, electrical engineering, and nanotechnology to deal with a wide spectrum of activities from the fundamental understanding of spin physics to real-world applications.
MAGNEPIC aims to tackle some materials and physics challenges spintronics faces by using radically different approaches and new material combinations. More specifically, we aim to study a family of magnetic insulators called garnets and place them in a favorable position for spintronics research and applications by exploiting emerging physics and materials/device engineering.