Harnessing the power of topology in oxide electronics for future IT components

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


In spite of its extraordinary success in fuelling the IT revolution, silicon (CMOS) technology is intrinsically not energy-efficient, because it relies on the movement of electrical charge, which is associated with Joule heating. One of the front runners among 'beyond-CMOS' technologies is spintronics, which relies on spins rather than charges to transfer and process information; however, much of the energy efficiency of spintronics is lost if spin flipping - the elementary spintronic operation - must in itself be performed by electrical currents. For this reason, voltage control of magnetic components is widely considered to be the key to large-scale commercialisation of spintronics [1-3]. The field of oxide electronics emerges precisely from the consideration that oxides, especially those containing magnetic transition metal ions such as Co, Mn and Fe, can display a multitude of intriguing electrically-controlled multi-functional properties in their insulating states, whilst integration with CMOS is already a reality. The potential of oxide electronics can be further enhanced by exploiting the power of topology, which involves, quite literally, tying spins into 'magnetic knots'. In work recently published in Nature Materials [4], an international team of collaborators lead by Professor Paolo G. Radaelli (Oxford Physics) presented a major breakthrough in this field [5]: they created, for the first time, small-scale hybrid oxide/metal topological magnetic objects, consisting of tightly-coupled spin vortices in antiferromagnetic iron oxide (a-Fe2O3) and ferromagnetic metallic cobalt (Co). One particularly appealing feature of this system is that it employs cheap and readily available materials (a-Fe2O3 is the most abundant constituent of common rust!) and relatively simple fabrication, raising hopes that these systems could be deployed on a commercial scale in the future. This EPSRC-funded DPhil project will give the successful candidate the opportunity to develop this line of research in different directions, both fundamental and applied.
This project falls under the EPSRC Quantum devices components and systems theme.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513295/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2285094 Studentship EP/R513295/1 01/10/2019 30/03/2023 Jack William Harrison