They're not exactly the peanut butter and jelly of semiconductors, but when you put them together, something magical happens.
Alone, neither lanthanum aluminate nor strontium titanate exhibit any particularly notable properties. But when they are layered together, they become not only conductive, but also magnetic.
In the current online edition of Nature Physics, researchers at The Ohio State University report the first-ever theoretical explanation to be offered for this phenomenon since it was discovered in 2004.
Understanding how these two semiconductors interact at their interface could someday lead to a different kind of material—one that provides a single platform for computation and data storage, said Mohit Randeria, co-author of the paper and professor of physics at Ohio State.
"The whole question is, how can you take two materials which do not conduct electricity and do not have magnetic properties, make a sandwich out of them and—lo and behold—at the interface tween them, charge begins to flow and interesting magnetic effects happen?" he said.
"It's like taking two pieces of bread and putting them together and having the sandwich filling magically appear."
By making calculations and modeling the basic physical properties of both materials, Randeria's team has hit upon an explanation for the behavior that seems ironic: the interface between two non-magnetic materials exhibits magnetism.
The team showed how the elemental units of magnetism, called "local moments," are formed at the interface of the two materials. They then showed how these moments interact with the conducting electrons to give rise to a magnetic state in which the moments are arranged in an unusual spiral pattern.
If the physicists' explanation is correct, then perhaps someday, electronic devices could be constructed that exploit the interface between two oxides. Theoretically, such devices would combine the computational abilities of a silicon chip with the magnetic data storage abilities of permanent magnets like iron.
"If you had conduction and magnetism available in the same platform, it could be possible to integrate computer memory with data processing. Maybe different kinds of computation would be possible," Randeria said.
But those applications are a long way off. Right now, the physicists hope that their theoretical explanation for the strange magnetic behavior will enable other researchers to perform experiments and confirm it.
Randeria's coauthors included Ohio State postdoctoral researcher Sumilan Banerjee and former doctoral student Onur Erten, who graduated this summer and is about to begin a postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Ohio State's Center for Emergent Materials, one of a network of Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers funded by NSF.
Pam Frost Gorder | EurekAlert!
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy