Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Magnetic charge crystals imaged in artificial spin ice

Magnetic charge crystals imaged in artificial spin ice: In the honeycomb pattern, where three magnetic poles intersect, a net charge of north or south is forced at each vertex. The magnetic "monopole charge" at each vertex influences the magnetic "charge" of the surrounding vertices. The team was able to image the crystalline structure of the magnetic charges using magnetic force microscopy...

The research team's new annealing protocol—heating the material to a high temperature where their magnetic polarity is suppressed (here, about 550 degrees Celsius)—allows the nanomagnets to flip their polarity and freely interact. As the material cools, the nanomagnets are ordered according to the interactions of their poles at the vertices...

"This work demonstrates a direction in condensed matter physics that is quite opposite to what has been done in the last sixty years or so," said Nisoli. "Instead of imagining an emergent theoretical description to model the behavior of a nature-given material and validating it indirectly, we engineer materials of desired emergent properties that can be visualized directly."

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