The nano engineering and spintronic technologies (NEST) group focuses on understanding the physical processes and developing the fundamental understanding necessary to create the computational and data storage devices of the future.
Our research includes exploring recent device ideas in non-conventional computing and encompasses a broad range of activities to explore the spin of electrons in nanoscale magnetic structures. The group interacts strongly with the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials and the National Graphene Institute. We regularly use large scale facilities in the UK and Europe for neutron and X-ray scattering and have wide range of collaborators in the UK and Europe.
We have a new PhD opening looking at “Spin wave dynamics for spintronic computational devices“.
Spin waves (magnons) are fundamental excitations found in magnetically ordered materials. Recently spin wave phenomena have been proposed as a new paradigm for dedicated computational tasks due to the inherently low energy of this type of excitation. Spin waves have high potential for nanostructured magnetic devices able to perform a set of important computational tasks such as pattern recognition, convolution, and Fourier transformations. Additionally, the generation, detection and manipulation of spin waves are key enabling technologies for microwave processing, magnetic sensing as well as for unconventional logic.
In order to understand the potential of spin waves, the physics of new materials needs to be explored. It has very recently been realized that high frequencies, towards THz, can be generated using antiferromagnets and we have already succeeded in demonstrating high frequencies from a synthetic antiferromagnetic system  which provides a solid platform for this project. Similarly, exploring the potential of materials with perpendicular anisotropy (PMA) provides exciting avenues for developing spin wave technologies. For example, there is a class of thin films with L10 ordering (MnAl, FePt, MnAlGe, FePtPd) which possess the very high PMA needed to generate high frequencies. Extensions to these ideas are so-called hybrid systems, where in addition to a layer containing perpendicular magnetization other 2D layers with including those with in-plane anisotropy .
In this project, the aim is to develop the understanding necessary to create high frequency spin wave devices using the emerging ideas for new atomically engineered materials. This is an experimental project involving depositing and characterization of atomically layered magnetic films, creating devices using lithography and measuring them using ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) and advanced electrical measurements (e.g. non-local geometry) to understand their high frequency properties. The project will use the state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities for magnetism and nanodevice research in Manchester where we have a wide range of nanoscale magnetism activities. There will also be opportunities to interact with our existing collaborators in laboratories across Europe.
 R.L. Stamps et al. “The 2014 Magnetism Roadmap” J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 47 (2014) 333001  Waring et al. In preparation.  Wohlhüter et al. “Nanoscale switch for vortex polarization mediated by Bloch core formation in magnetic hybrid systems” Nature Comms. 6 (2015) 7836.
We have had a new paper published in Scientific Reports: “Topography dependence of the metamagnetic phase transition in FeRh thin films”, by J L Warren, C W Barton, C Bull and T Thomson, Vol 10, Article 4030 (2020). You can view the published paper here.
The equiatomic alloy FeRh is of great scientific and technological interest due its highly unusual first-order antiferromagnetic (AF) to ferromagnetic (FM) phase transition. Here we report an exploration of the interplay between topography and phase evolution with a comprehensive magnetic force microscopy study of nominal 50 nm thick FeRh thin films and subtractively patterned wires of width 0.2 µm–2 µm. In continuous films where the surface morphology had not been optimised for smoothness, the topographical variation was observed to dominate the distribution of the magnetic transition temperatures and dictates the nucleation and growth of the magnetic phases. This observation was repeated for patterned elements, where the effects of surface morphology were more significant than those of spatial confinement. These results have clear implications for future studies of low-dimensional FeRh films, as surface topography must be considered when analysing and comparing the transition behaviour of FeRh thin films.
We are looking for a student to investigate the generation of THz pulses of radiation from spintronic structures to reveal the physics that governs the properties of these remarkable material systems and optimise spin-based structures for the emission of THz radiation. The work is experimental in nature and encompasses a number of areas, such as the fabrication and characterisation of metallic thin-film emitters and the investigation of the THz characteristics of such systems. The project will support a recently awarded UKRI EPSRC-funded project focused on understanding the THz emission process from spintronic structures.