Half-Metals, Spin Torque, and Nanorings


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The exploration of magnetic nanostructures in recent years has resulted in a string of discoveries such as interlayer coupling, giant magnetoresistance (GMR), exchange bias, and tunneling magnetoresistance. Some of these effects were utilized as read-heads in high-density magnetic recording and non-volatile magnetic storage only a few years after the original discovery. In this talk, I will describe several new topics in magnetic nanostructures from inception to realization to potential applications.
Most magnetoelectronic properties are the results of the spin polarization of the constituent materials. The ultimate spin-polarized material with 100% spin polarization is called the half-metal. For example, magnetic tunnel junctions with half-metal electrodes would have the largest possible effect, switching between conducting and insulating states. The unique characteristics of half-metals, the experimental identifications, and the confirmation of half-metals to date will be described.
Since electrons have spin in additional to charge, a spin-polarized current carries angular momentum. For a large current density, the angular momentum can exert a substantial torque onto a receiving magnetic entity to excite spin waves or even to switch its magnetization. The spin torque effects are accomplished in the absence of an external magnetic field. The salient aspects of the spin torque effects in different contexts, such as switching and magnetic recording without a magnetic field, will be described.
Nanorings are small entities with special attributes. A magnetic nanoring can support vortex state despite its very small size. The two chiralities of the vortex state can be exploited for magnetic recording purposes. Multilayered nanoprings have also been proposed as vertical random access memory (VRAM) units. However, fabrication of nanorings using e-beam lithography has considerable limitations in the number of rings, ring size, and areal density. We have developed a new method with which a large number (109) of small (100 nm) rings can be fabricated with a very areal density of 45 rings per square micrometer. The magnetic and other characteristics of such arrays of nanorings will be described.