Skyrmions are on the rise – new two-dimensional materials are driving low-power computing

Two-dimensional magnetic materials are known as the cornerstone of the next generation of small, fast electronic devices. These materials consist of crystal sheets that are only a few atoms thick, and they derive unique magnetism from the inherent compass needle-like spins of electrons. The atomic-level thickness of the flakes means that these spins can be manipulated at the finest scale using an external electric field, which could lead to new low-energy data storage and information processing systems. However, knowing exactly how to design a two-dimensional material with specific magnetic properties that can be precisely manipulated remains an obstacle to its application.

Recently, according toScience AdvancesunfoldMagazine reportsLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryResearchers at (Berkeley Lab), the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University, and Rutgers University have discovered layered two-dimensional materials that can carry unique magnetic characteristics that remain stable at room temperature and may therefore eventually be used in everyday devices in the future. Atomic-scale images of materials reveal the precise chemical and structural characteristics that lead to these features and their stability.

The researchers calculated how the electronic structure of common two-dimensional materials changes by exchanging different atoms. The possibility that this particular exchange makes crystal structures unable to superimpose on their mirror images and leads to a singular vortex-like spin arrangement called skyrmions is being explored as a building block for future low-power computing.

The study’s co-authors, Hongrui Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and Xiang Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab and the University of California, Berkeley, used crystal growth devices to explore some of the most promising two-dimensional materials, including cobalt-doped iron germanium telluride. Fe in the form of nano-flakes 5 GeTe 2 )。 Fe 5 GeTe 2Due to its unique layered structure and crystal symmetry, iron atoms occupy specific points within the crystal structure and are a typical two-dimensional magnetic material. They found that by replacing iron atoms with cobalt atoms, they could spontaneously disrupt the natural crystal symmetry of the material, thereby altering its spin structure.

Sandhya Susarla, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab, and Yu-tsun Shao, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University, used electron microscopy capabilities at the National Electron Microscopy Center to confirm the atomic and electronic structure of complex materials. Get more cutting-edge research progress visit:

The research was partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Maps produced by magnetic microscopy techniques show a vortex-like spin pattern called a Stigminton, which occurs in a thin, layered, two-dimensional material. Researchers at Berkeley Lab say the material could push smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient electronics, such as low-power storage devices.

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