Hebrew University discovers a novel magnetic phenomenon with industrial potential while working with the tiny magnets.
Exploring the region of the very, very small is a nirvana for physicists. At the nanoscale, when materials as thin as 100 atoms are studied, completely new and unexpected behaviors are revealed. Unlike what happens in the world around us or out in space, nature ceases to act in a way that is foreseeable by macroscopic laws of physics.
The team of researchers was directed by Dr. Yonathan Anahory of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics, which included HU PhD student Avia Noah. As he discussed the photographs that revealed the phenomena of “edge magnetism,” he expressed his surprise at seeing images of the magnetism generated by nano-magnets, saying, “It was the first time we observed a magnet behaving this way.”
The scans revealed that the magnetic material studied by the HU researchers only preserved magnetism on its edge—specifically, only within 10 nanometers of the edge (remember a human hair is around 100,000 nanometers). Their findings were published in the prominent journal Nano Letters recently.
Although modest, this nano-effect could have a wide range of uses in our daily lives. “In today’s technological competition to make every component smaller and more energy efficient,” Anahory explained, “work is centered on small magnets of various forms.” The novel edge magnetism allows for the creation of long wire magnets that are only 10 nanometers thick and can bend into any shape. “It has the potential to transform the way we create spintronics devices,” Anahory said, alluding to next-generation nano-electronic devices with lower power consumption and enhanced memory and processing capabilities.
Anahory chose to investigate at a new magnetic nano-material (CGT) made by a colleague at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, which led to the discovery of edge magnetism. The breakthrough was made possible thanks to images created by a new type of magnetic microscopy developed in Israel that can quantify the magnetic field of a single electron. Novel technologies are required for the discovery of new phenomena. Furthermore, as edge magnetism has revealed, the phenomena will be at the center of much more advanced technologies.
Reference: “Interior and Edge Magnetization in Thin Exfoliated CrGeTe3 Films” by Avia Noah, Hen Alpern, Sourabh Singh, Alon Gutfreund, Gilad Zisman, Tomer D. Feld, Atzmon Vakahi, Sergei Remennik, Yossi Paltiel, Martin Emile Huber, Victor Barrena, Hermann Suderow, Hadar Steinberg, Oded Millo and Yonathan Anahory, 10 March 2022, Nano Letters.