Topological Spintronics

Project: Research


"Spin" is an intrinsic form of angular momentum universally carried by elementary particles, composite particles, and atomic nuclei. It is a solely quantum phenomenon and has no counterpart in classical mechanics. Many fundamental questions of the electrons' spin remain open issues up to this date: the spin-orbital coupling, spin-photon interaction, and spin wave transmission to name a few. Significantly, the discovery of giant magnetoresistance effect, celebrated by the 2007 Nobel Prize, has generated a revolutionary impact on the data storage technologies. This triggered the rise of Spintronics (or Spin-Electronics), an interdisciplinary subject dedicated for the study of spin-based other than or in addition to charge-only- based physical phenomena of electronic systems. The recently discovered topological phase has presented new possibilities for spintronics: even the insulating state of matter exhibits a conductivity at the edges of certain physical systems and such conductive states are nontrivial and robust. Their unique spin-lock behaviours not only enrich the world of low-dimensional physics, but also provide a platform for transformative technical innovations. Traditionally spin phenomena have long been investigated within the context of ferromagnetic metals and alloys, the study of spin generation, relaxation, and spin-orbit coupling in non-magnetic materials took off only recently with the advent of hybrid spintronics and it is here many novel materials and architectures can find their greatest potentials in both science and technology. In the pursuit for such goals, the intrinsic material properties (e.g. mobility, anisotropy, conductivity etc.) are important indicators and the artificially synthesized hybrid systems (e.g. multilayers, hybrid systems, and nano-structures etc.) are valuable models for studying the topologically protected spin phenomena and could potentially be used as actual components for an eventual logic device. This project focuses on the experimental studies (nano-fabrication and characterisation) of magnetic topological insulators. They are expected to give rise to Quantum Anomalous Hall effect and further coherent spin transport phenomena, in which Joule heating are minimised and therefore can be used in the next generation energy-efficient electronics. This will be assisted via proximity to a high-Curie-temperature ferromagnetic insulator to boost the spin ordering temperature of the selected systems.
Effective start/end date1/12/1830/11/21


Eng & Phys Sci Res Council EPSRC: £402,842

ID: 30111635