Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Splicing together a thin film in motion

15.03.2018

Technology reliant on thin film materials has become ubiquitous in our everyday life. Control of the electronic properties of materials at the nanometer level is reflected in advances of computers, solar energy and batteries. The electronic behavior of thin films is heavily influenced by the contact with their surroundings, as exemplified by the recent discovery of 2D superconductivity at a thin film interface. However, information about how such entwined states come into existence is limited by the lack of tools capable of visualizing such buried interfaces.

The recent work of Dr. Kenneth Beyerlein, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics (MPSD) in Hamburg, provides a new approach to imaging thin films on the atomic scale. It is made possible using an algorithm for image recovery that splices together a sequence of frames in time. The algorithm is showcased in a publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by recovering the response of a Neodymium Nickelate thin film to a disturbance initiated at its interface.


The principle of time-spliced imaging is depicted here for a simulated evolution of magnetic field lines from four rotating magnetic dipoles that have the same initial anti-ferromagnetic structure as the studied material, neodymium nickelate. The early frames in the time series pin down the set of possible reconstructions at later times, sharpening the image recovery by ruling out erroneous solutions.

Credit: Jörg Harms / MPSD

This insight supported previous experimental findings that the magnetization dynamics propagate through the film faster than the speed of sound. Such fast control of the magnetization is important for the development of new computing devices that use light to control the electronic state of a material.

Fine features can be studied under a microscope because lenses magnify an object’s image. However, the maximum resolution of this process is limited by the wavelength of light used. As visible light is between 400 nm (blue) and 700 nm (red), objects smaller than this will appear blurry under a microscope - making atoms undiscernible. Visualizing atoms with light requires the use of X-rays, as their wavelength matches the size of an atom.

However, efficient lenses for X-rays are difficult to make, with the best resolution so far achieved being just less than 10 nm. Nonetheless, if the X-rays are coherent, like light from a laser, a high-resolution image of the object can be recovered computationally, using a methodology called iterative phase retrieval. This method does not rely on the object being repeated in a lattice, which the basis of X-ray crystallography.

Iterative phase retrieval has been widely applied to study two-dimensional and three-dimensional problems like nanoparticle growth, magnetism domain dynamics and the structure of viruses. However, its application to one-dimensional imaging is fraught with the problem that in some cases multiple different images of an object are found. This ambiguity in one dimension arises from a decreased amount of information that can be used to constrain the solution as compared to higher dimensions.

To overcome this, Beyerlein compared the solutions obtained from different time steps in a set of time-resolved X-ray diffraction rocking curve measurements. The spliced-together 1D profiles showed a high degree of similarity between each time step, confirming the fidelity of the recovered images. On a fundamental level, this offers a new way to constrain 1D phase retrieval, extending the method and allowing it to be applied to a new class of scientific problems.

Using this approach Beyerlein was able to recover the heterogeneous evolution of the magnetization in a thin film in response to the excitation of a phonon in the substrate. The anti-ferromagnetic order in the film was found to be instantly destroyed at the interface, and a demagnetization front propagated into the film at roughly twice the speed of sound. This process happened in just 10 picoseconds and was captured with 5 nm resolution using femtosecond mid-infrared and X-ray laser pulses at the LINAC Coherent Light Source.

This study is part of a larger effort in the group of Professor Andrea Cavalleri using light to track the non-equilibrium correlated states of condensed matter caused by driving lattice dynamics.

*) Full picture caption: "The principle of time-spliced imaging is depicted here for a simulated evolution of magnetic field lines from four rotating magnetic dipoles that have the same initial anti-ferromagnetic structure as the studied material, neodymium nickelate. The early frames in the time series pin down the set of possible reconstructions at later times, sharpening the image recovery by ruling out erroneous solutions."

Weitere Informationen:

http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1716160115 (PNAS)
http://www.mpsd.mpg.de (Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter)

Jenny Witt | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

Further reports about: Max Planck Institute Max-Planck-Institut X-ray thin film wavelength

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Proteins imaged in graphene liquid cell have higher radiation tolerance
10.12.2018 | INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH

nachricht High-temperature electronics? That's hot
07.12.2018 | Purdue University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

ETRI exchanged quantum information on daylight in a free-space quantum key distribution

10.12.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>