PhD on Artificially frustrated magnetic systems

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Duration: 3-years. Position available already starting November 1st, 2015

Supervisor: Dr. Paolo Vavassori

Suitable for physicists, materials scientists, engineers

The project:

Frustration is defined as a competition between interactions such that not all of them can be satisfied. Geometrical frustration, which arises from the topology of a well-ordered structure become a topic of considerable interest since it can be induced and tuned in a controlled way. In particular, geometrical frustration among spins in magnetic materials can lead to exotic low temperature states, of great interest for fundamental and applied studies. In the specific, we are interested in the so called “artificial spin ices” (ASIs), which is a class of lithographically created arrays of interacting ferromagnetic nanometre-scale islands. It was introduced to investigate many-body phenomena related to frustration and disorder in a material that could be tailored to precise specifications and imaged directly. From a different viewpoint, ASIs form a metamaterial where the properties are designed in and arise due to the engineering of the mesoscale properties (the size, shape, and placement of the islands). As such, they offer broad scientific and technological perspectives: implementation of statistical mechanics models of theory, model systems for the study of out-of-equilibrium thermodynamics, and prototypes for physical systems that store and process information in unconventional ways, (complex networks and neuromorphic computers). Recently, we demonstrate a method for thermalizing ASIs by heating above the temperature for activation of thermal fluctuations (TB). This thermally induced demagnetization protocol can be repeated as many times as desired on the same sample, and the heating/cooling parameters can be varied at will. Thereby, this approach opens the pathway to the systematic experimental study of thermally induced ordered states in artificial spin-ice systems.

In this project, we will direct our studies towards the design and fabrication of ASIs of various geometries with the purpose of tuning the energy barrier for thermal fluctuation activation via shape and size of the individual nano-elements as well as the constituent material properties. In this way one can achieve an unprecedented tuning of the dipolar interactions during the frustration accommodation in the thermalization process. We will investigate the novel magnetic phases that would emerge from the ground states of frustrated lattices via magnetic imaging, as well as their collective dynamics excited by radio-frequency and pulsed magnetic fields. To these purpose we will use the magnetic force and magneto-optical microscopy tools and the ferromagnetic resonance measurements setup available at nanoGUNE.

References and reading list:

R. F. Wang et al., Nature 439, 303 (2006)
J. P. Morgan, A. Stein, S. Langridge, and C. H. Marrows, Nature Phys. 7, 75 (2011)
J. M. Porro, A. Bedoya-Pinto, A. Berger, and P. Vavassori, New J. Phys. 15, 055012 (2013)
E. Nikulina, O. Idigoras, P. Vavassori, A. Chuvilin, and A. Berger, Appl. Phys. Lett. 100, 142401 (2012).
T. Verduci, C. Rufo, A. Berger, V. Metlushko, B. Ilic, and P. Vavassori, Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 092501 (2011).

The group:

The Nanomagnetism Group at CIC nanoGUNE is conducting world-class basic and applied research in the field of magnetism in nano-scale structures. The Group staff has a longstanding expertise and proven track record in fundamental and applied aspects of nano-magnetism, and specifically in the use of magneto-optical methods. The main scientific topics pursued by the Nanomagnetism Group are:

  • Understanding magnetism and magnetic phenomena on very small length and very fast time scales in systems with competing interactions by means of experiments and theory
  • Development of advanced methodologies and tooling for magnetic materials characterization at the nanometer-length scale and the picosecond-timescale (especially magneto-optics)
  • Design, fabrication and characterization of novel nanometer-scale magnetic structures, meta-magnetic materials, thin films and multilayers
  • Novel concepts for applied magnetic nano-scale materials

More info:


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