Scientists unveil fundamental properties of spin Seebeck effect

July 28, 2016
Thermally excited spin waves carry a spin current from the ferromagnet (YIG in this case) into the metal layer. Depending on the YIG thickness and the interface condition the amplitude of the spin current as well as transmission properties change. Credit: Joel Cramer, JGU

Thermoelectric effects are a fundamental building block for the conception and development of new processes for information processing. They enable to re-use waste heat obtained in different processes for the operation of respective devices and thus contribute to the establishment of more energy-efficient, ecofriendly processes. A promising representative of this effect category is the so-called spin Seebeck effect, which became prominent within recent years. This effect allows to convert waste heat into spin currents and thereby to transport energy as well as information in magnetic, electrically insulating materials. Physicists of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany together with their colleagues from Glasgow University in Scotland now succeeded to reveal essential properties of this yet to be fully understood effect. Their findings contribute to a more thorough understanding of the underlying processes of this effect and thereby support its further development for first applications.

The research work has been published in the journal Physical Review X.

The spin Seebeck effect belongs to the category of spin-thermoelectric effects. Previous work of the physicists at Mainz University in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Konstanz and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has shown that the creation of a thermal non-equilibrium leads to the creation of magnetic waves, so-called magnons, within magnetic materials. These transport both energy and torque and thus are able to induce a voltage signal in adjacent metal thin films.

By means of material-dependent measurements over a wide temperature range and with a varied thickness of the employed , a direct correlation between the amplitude of the voltage signal and the intrinsic properties of magnons was identified. Furthermore, it was shown that the temperature dependence of the voltage generation efficiency additionally depends strongly on the atomic structure of the interface between magnetic material and metal thin film.

"Step by step answers to the open questions about the fundamental processes of the spin Seebeck effect are given. Our results yield an essential contribution for the development of the aspiring field of magnon spintronics", said Joel Cramer, co-author of the publication and stipend of the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ).

Professor Mathias Kläui added: "I am very glad that by means of the intensive collaboration with our colleagues we were able to correlate the transport of spins with the microscopic, atomistic structure. The cooperation with our colleagues from Glasgow already led to several mutual publications and an active exchange with leading groups from abroad is one of the central measures of our Graduate School of Excellence."

Explore further: Researchers present new findings on magnetic spin waves

More information: Er-Jia Guo et al, Influence of Thickness and Interface on the Low-Temperature Enhancement of the Spin Seebeck Effect in YIG Films, Physical Review X (2016). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.6.031012

Related Stories

Researchers present new findings on magnetic spin waves

February 10, 2016

An international team of researchers gained new insights into magnetic spin waves. Spin waves can evolve in electrically non-conducting materials given a specific temperature gradient and then be converted into electrical ...

Ultrafast heat conduction can manipulate nanoscale magnets

June 8, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have uncovered physical mechanisms allowing the manipulation of magnetic information with heat. These new phenomena rely on the transport of thermal energy, in ...

Recommended for you

Gravitational waves may oscillate, just like neutrinos

September 21, 2017

(Phys.org)—Using data from the first-ever gravitational waves detected last year, along with a theoretical analysis, physicists have shown that gravitational waves may oscillate between two different forms called "g" and ...

Detecting cosmic rays from a galaxy far, far away

September 21, 2017

In an article published today in the journal Science, the Pierre Auger Collaboration has definitively answered the question of whether cosmic particles from outside the Milky Way Galaxy. The article, titled "Observation of ...

New technique accurately digitizes transparent objects

September 21, 2017

A new imaging technique makes it possible to precisely digitize clear objects and their surroundings, an achievement that has eluded current state-of-the-art 3D rendering methods. The ability to create detailed, 3D digital ...

Physicists publish new findings on electron emission

September 21, 2017

Even more than 100 years after Einstein's explanation of photoemission the process of electron emission from a solid material upon illumination with light still poses challenging surprises. In the report now published in ...

New analysis explains role of defects in metal oxides

September 21, 2017

Sometimes things that are technically defects, such as imperfections in a material's crystal lattice, can actually produce changes in properties that open up new kinds of useful applications. New research from a team at MIT ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.