Study suggests second life for possible spintronic materials

Jun 06, 2013
This image shows a 3D rendering of a stable manganese gallium nitride surface structure. Credit: A.R. Smith, Ohio University

Ten years ago, scientists were convinced that a combination of manganese and gallium nitride could be a key material to create spintronics, the next generation of electronic devices that operate on properties found at the nanoscale. But researchers grew discouraged when experiments indicated that the two materials were as harmonious as oil and water.

A new study led by Ohio University physicists suggests that scientists should take another look at this materials duo, which once was heralded for its potential to be the building block for devices that can function at or above room temperature.

"We've found a way—at least on the surface of the material—of incorporating a uniform layer," said Arthur Smith, a professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio University who leads the of Argentinian and Spanish researchers.

The scientists made two important changes to create the material merger, they report in the journal Physical Review B. First, they used the nitrogen polarity of , whereas conventional experiments used the gallium polarity to attach to the manganese, Smith explained. Second, they heated the sample.

At lower temperatures (less than 105 degrees Celsius), the manganese atoms "float" on the outer layer of gallium atoms. When the scientists raised the temperature about 100 degrees Celsius, Smith said, the atoms connected to the nitrogen layer underneath, creating a manganese-nitrogen bond. This bond remains stable, even at very .

The theoretical scientists accurately predicted that a "triplet" structure of three manganese atoms would form a metastable structure at low temperatures, Smith said. But at higher temperatures, those break apart and bond with nitrogen. Valeria Ferrari of the Centro Atómico Constituyentes said her group performed quantum mechanical simulations to test which model structures have the lowest energy, which suggested both the trimer structure and the manganese-nitrogen bonded structure.

Now that scientists have shown that they can create a stable structure with these materials, they will investigate whether it has the magnetic properties at room temperature necessary to function as a spintronic material.

Explore further: Technique simplifies the creation of high-tech crystals

Related Stories

Solving mysterious enzyme structure

Dec 12, 2012

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (MPI CEC) have solved a long-standing puzzle in photosynthesis research. With the aid of quantum chemistry they were able to provide unexpected ...

Recommended for you

IHEP in China has ambitions for Higgs factory

12 hours ago

Who will lay claim to having the world's largest particle smasher?. Could China become the collider capital of the world? Questions tease answers, following a news story in Nature on Tuesday. Proposals for ...

The physics of lead guitar playing

13 hours ago

String bends, tapping, vibrato and whammy bars are all techniques that add to the distinctiveness of a lead guitarist's sound, whether it's Clapton, Hendrix, or BB King.

The birth of topological spintronics

14 hours ago

The discovery of a new material combination that could lead to a more efficient approach to computer memory and logic will be described in the journal Nature on July 24, 2014. The research, led by Penn S ...

The electric slide dance of DNA knots

17 hours ago

DNA has the nasty habit of getting tangled and forming knots. Scientists study these knots to understand their function and learn how to disentangle them (e.g. useful for gene sequencing techniques). Cristian ...

User comments : 0