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K-State Today

June 14, 2019

Suprem Das' research team featured in physics journal

Submitted by Brandy Webb

Suprem Das, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, is leading a research team studying the next generation of information carriers and storage units. Their research was recently featured on the cover of the Applied Physics Letter June 2019 issue. Industrial Engineering graduate student Aroop Behera of Das’ research group is the first author on the research paper. 

Currently, silicon is the standard element used to manufacture computer chips and transistors, but the need for greater storage capacity and faster transmissions is leading scientists to explore other material options. Scientists have been exploring the possibility of using a quantum mechanical degree of freedom of an electron, called spin, instead of the charge which is used in electronics today. Although spin can store a massive amount of information compared to charge, manipulating and stabilizing spin within a material is notoriously difficult and yet to be achieved. 

Das’ team believes the answer to these issues are called "skyrmions," an arrangement of atomic spins in a unique and topologically protected way. Since late 2018, the K-State team, led by Das, have asked the question: "If chromium tri-iodide is magnetic can there be a skyrmion in atomic thin magnet?" A concept they hypothesize as "2D-skyrmions."

In the article, the researchers show that under certain conditions, in particular, by applying a vertical electric field to the atomic magnet one can break the symmetry of their atomic positions that sufficiently induce favorable conditions to show swirling magnetic textures, i.e., skyrmions. These skyrmions have proven to be physically stable and can be used as information carriers. They could also be made very small — few tens of nanometers in size — and they are energy efficient when carrying information. So far skyrmions have been demonstrated in bulk materials and thin magnetic films when synthesized on heavy metals. 

This work is a collaboration with Sugata Chowdhury, senior researcher and co-author at Rice University, who is presently stationed in NIST, Gaithersburg, Maryland. View the full article online