Magnetic Insulators: An Enabling Platform for Innovative Spintronic Concepts
Spintronics, or spin electronics, is a rapidly emerging research area that has the potential to significantly enhance speed and memory, while decreasing power consumption, in the next generation of nanoelectronic devices. It is focused on the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment in addition to its electric charge.
The majority of spintronics concepts rely on magnetic conductors, materials that have some sort of magnetic order and are electrically conducting. The latter makes it simpler to induce and measure spintronics effects. The EU-funded MAGNEPIC project plans to demonstrate the potential of magnetic insulators for spintronics devices by developing novel electrical means to control magnetisation.
H2020 - Excellent Science - European Research Council (ERC)
Feb 2021 - Jan 2026
New approaches to write, read, and process data are required in order to improve the sustainability of computer technologies. Spintronics offers attractive solutions to these problems. Today, however, the majority of spintronic devices and research efforts rely on a limited set of materials, mostly magnetic conductors. Here I propose to challenge this conventional approach and place magnetic insulators at the core of spintronics by exploiting their advantages over conducting magnets.
Magnetic conductors are ubiquitous in spintronics due to their ability to generate and detect spin currents by electrical means. However, we now know that nonmagnetic materials with large spin-orbit coupling can efficiently convert charge currents into spin currents with de-coupled directions. This key feature enables spin current injection into virtually any material, including magnetic insulators where charge currents cannot propagate but spin currents can.
The aim of this project is to bridge the long-established knowledge on magnetic insulators with today’s expertise on spintronics and measurement techniques. I will exploit the highly tunable properties of magnetic insulators to achieve efficient magnetization control by electrical means in various schemes.
- First, I will optimize the current-induced spin-orbit torque control of magnetization in magnetic insulators, a widely used methods in ferromagnetic conductors, but little explored in the context of insulators.
- Second, I will devise a new electrical method to induce localized spin-flop transitions and harness the magnonic spin currents generated in this process.
- Third, I will explore the possibilities of dynamically controlling the magnetic properties of insulators by proximity coupling and electric gating.
Overall, MAGNEPIC will provide breakthrough knowledge of magnetic insulators for spintronics and demonstrate fast, energy-efficient, and innovative device concepts for magnetic data manipulation beyond the state-of-the art.