Magnetic nanostructures for low cost, low energy data storage and sensor applications
This research project is in competition for funding with one or more projects available across the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Usually the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding. Find out more information about the DTP and how to apply.
Magnetic materials collectively known as ‘spin ice’ have similar properties to those of water ice. These materials have attracted a great deal of attention, although their properties are still not completely understood.
One interesting phenomenon seen in spin ice materials is the emergence of particles that have become known as monopoles. These emergent magnetic monopoles can be thought of as ‘magnetic charges’ in analogy to more familiar electrical charges upon which many of our modern-day electronic devices are based.
In the same way that electrical charges flow through silicon chips, thus allowing electronic devices to function it might be possible to make useful technological devices from spin ice materials with magnetic charges flowing through them.
Conventional bulk spin ice materials are difficult to make and control but using state of the art nanofabrication facilities available at the University, it is relatively straightforward to produce ‘artificial spin ice’ materials which mimic many of the properties seen in ‘real’ spin ice.
Constructing artificial spin ice materials from their constituent building blocks gives us exquisite control over their properties and might allow us to harness them for device applications. These materials are made by arranging numbers of small magnets in a regular repeating pattern.
The vast majority of information in datacentres or ‘cloud’ storage is recorded using nanoscale magnetic elements on rotating hard disk drives. It has recently been suggested that artificial spin ice materials might be able to store and process information in a similar way to conventional magnetic storage devices, but potentially at lower cost and with lower overall power consumption. Similar materials may also have utility as magnetic sensors.
The project has four stages (yr 0.0-0.5) literature search, cleanroom & basic nanomagnetism training (yr 0.5-1.5) device fabrication and measurement (yr 1.5-2.5) device development, nanomagnetic modelling; (yr 2.5-3.5) device demonstrations, reporting, viva.