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Ireland China MANIAC Project

Ireland China MANIAC Project

march 2018

Mike Coey's portrait unveilled

Mike’s college portrait, painted by Clarey Clarke, Irelands renowned hyperrealist portrait painter will be on show at the RHA on Ely place over the summer, before the painting will return for display in college. The painting shows a laboratory setting, a 5T supercooling magnet visible in the background and magnetotransport data can be seen on the computer screen. Mike’s black notebook is open on the desk, pencil and calculator are at hand, a blue Textbook and a Halbach cylinder are all presented in exquisite detail. Everything in the picture will age except for the permanent magnet which is an optimal design of Nd-Fe-B, unlikely to ever be surpassed.

d-zero magnets reviewed

Ireland China MANIAC Project

April 2018: A detailed review on CeO2 the fruit fly d0 system with 350 references A detailed review based on Karl Ackland’s PhD thesis has appeared in an issue of Physics Reports

Joule was right! A new contribution to Nature

175 years ago, James Prescott Joule, a successful Salford brewer who was passionate about science, immersed an iron rod in water. Joule is famous for showing that different forms of energy ¬— thermal, mechanical, electrical — are interconvertible, and the modern unit of energy bears his name. But just then he was interested in magnetism, and he used an electric current in a coil to magnetize his iron rod, while monitoring carefully the change in water level to infer its volume change. Earlier he had detected a small increase of length when the rod was magnetized, a discovery known as magnetostriction, which explains why a low hum at twice the mains frequency emanates from transformers. But that day, when he was looking for volume change, he found — nothing. Joule reasoned that when the rod expands as it is magnetised along its length, it must contract by half as much in the perpendicular directions1. This is volume-conserving ‘Joulian magnetostriction’. Over the years, better magnetostrictive materials than pure iron were discovered, and many useful applications were found, ranging from electric toothbrushes to underwater sonar. One of the best materials was an alloy of iron and gallium, discovered in a US military laboratory in 20002. Its magnetostriction was found to be up to 50 times greater than pure iron. Magnetized rods could expand by up to 0.1%, a giant amount of magnetostriction.
Then, in 2015, two US scientists claimed in a letter to Nature3 that the giant magnetostriction of iron-gallium did not conserve volume, as everyone had expected. This provoked some of the leading researchers in the field, including Chengbao Jiang and his student Yangkun He at Beihang University in China to grow a dozen crystals of the alloy (metals can form crystals!) with different compositions, shapes and heat treatments. Together with colleagues Michael Coey and Plamen Stamenov at Trinity College, Dublin they measured the dimensional change for every possible combination of crystal orientation and magnetic field direction. They even repeated Joule’s original immersion experiment, but they too found — nothing. Joule was right! They announced in a short note to Nature4 that the theoretical basis of magnetostrictive technology was sound!
A spin-off from the Ireland-China collaboration is a 4-year project, supported from both sides, to develop a new, microscopic energy-harvesting device based on the Chinese iron-gallium crystals. It will convert mechanical energy to electrical energy wherever if can tap a source of mechanical vibrations. Joule would have been proud!

May: MaMi

May 2018. The new Maire Curie PhD training network on magnetism and Microhydrodynamics (MaMi) began formally in May 2018. Academic parties from different disciplines in France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Latvia and Slovenia will work with industry partly to train 15 new PhDs to analyse a new field. Two of these PhDs will be based in TCD. The aim is to catalyse a new filed coupling magnetic forces with bio-inspired local flow control, thereby creating new concepts that will transform microfluidics. Research projects range from fundamentals of celebral fluid flow to frictionless magnetic liquid confinement to demonstrations of revolutionary microfluidics and separation of rare-earth elements. The structured three-year PhD projects will include secondments to partner laboratories, and industrial work experience. For more information please visit The best times in science are at the beginning of something new!

New Moke Microscope

New Magnetic Crop Spraying Mystery


Group-D Reunion at the INTERMAG 2017 Conference in Dublin

The Group-D reunion at INTERMAG 2017 was a great opportunity for the past and present members to meet. Special thanks to Dr. Nora Dempsey for the organisation of the evening.

SFI Funded Trifolium Dubium sputter-deposition tool update

The Spin Electronics and Magnetism group at TCD will soon take charge of a new National Access vacuum deposition and analysis system, fully integrated for the use of various deposition and analysis techniques without the need to break vacuum. The system, developed by DCA Instruments, Finland, will employ sputtering of metals and dielectrics, pulsed laser deposition (PLD), and molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). Also included will be an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS), developed by SPECS, Germany. Each technique will be housed in its own chamber, with separate chambers for sputtering of metals and of dielectrics. Various technologies will be available during deposition, including confocal and target-facing-target sputtering, DC/RF and reactive sputtering, combinatorial and wedge deposition, substrate biasing, high temperature oxygen-compatible heaters, natural and plasma oxidation/nitridation of metal layers, with quartz crystal monitoring of deposition rates. RHEED analysis will be available in PLD and MBE chambers. All chambers will be connected via a UHV central hub, with entrance via 10-wafer loadlock. Automation will allow for high throughput and efficiency.

The new system is expected to be fully commissioned by the end of March 2018.

2017 INTERMAG Conference takes place in Dublin from 24th – 28th April

Fourteen hundered scientists will be coming to Dublin in April for this year's INTERMAG conference. Group members, Michael Coey, Plamen Stamenov, Karsten Rode and Gavin D'Arcy are all belong to the local committee. Present and former group D members will get together at a special event on the Thursday, 27th April. Details from Kat at

Plamen Stamenov coordinates FET–OPEN TRANSPIRE Project

TRANSPIRE, Ireland's first project to be funded by the EC Future and Emerging Technologies Program with partners in Germany, Norway and Switzerland, runs from 2017 to 2020. The €4.2M budget will be used to develop Terahertz spintronic chip–to–chip communications based on spin–torque oscillators, which are based on new half–metallic thin films discovered in the group.

Engineering The Properties Of Molecular Magnets –Major Breakthrough

Ground-breaking research led by Prof Stefano Sanvito, Professor of Condensed Matter Physics, Director of the CRANN Institute at Trinity College Dublin and Investigator in the Science Foundation Ireland funded centre AMBER, has demonstrated how molecular magnets could be used successfully in applications such as hard-disk drives and quantum computers. The breakthrough could increase a computer hard-disk’s capacity by 1000 using tiny molecules. How this might work has stymied international researchers for over thirty years, due to the challenge of molecular magnets operating at room temperature. This discovery could one day revolutionise computation as we know it, enabling lengthy and complex calculations, such as database searches, to be performed at incredibly high speeds. In a paper published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, the AMBER team comprising Prof Sanvito and Dr Alessandro Lunghi working with Prof Roberta Sessoli and her team at the University of Firenze, Italy, have discovered that by engineering the molecules to be as rigid as possible, they can operate at room temperature, thus opening up new ways for designing high-performance molecular magnets. Molecular magnets are tiny molecules, often comprising only a handful of atoms, which display the same properties of conventional magnets, such as iron. If molecular magnets were to be used as bits in hard-disk drives, there is the potential to increase the disk’s capacity up to a thousand times, so that standard 3.5’ hard-disk would store more than 1,000,000 gigabytes of data. This is because molecular magnets can be packed together at ultra-high density. Furthermore, other possible applications for magnetic magnets operating at high temperature are in quantum technologies such as quantum computation. At present a hypothetical hard-disk made of magnetic molecules will lose all data unless cooled down to about -200 C. Over the years researchers have been working very hard to design these molecules to operate at room temperature, mostly focussing their attention on magnetic properties. Prof Stefano Sanvito said, “This is a very exciting breakthrough and something that is of huge interest to the scientific community, who have demonstrated very slow progress to date with the development of molecular magnets that can operate at room temperature. When a magnet is small its magnetic properties degrade rapidly with temperature. In this paper, we have shown that a drastic improvement in the high-temperature properties of magnetic magnets can be achieved by engineering the molecules to be as rigid as possible.” This discovery will allow progress in the design of high-performance molecular magnets, a task already on-going in Prof Sessoli’s lab, and offers real potential for a quantum technologies, such as quantum computers. These may one day revolutionise computation as we know it, enabling lengthy and complex calculations, such as database searches, to be performed at incredibly high speeds.


November: Prof Plamen Stamenov led Transpire project Awarded €4.4 Million Funding

03 November 2016. Trinity researchers at the AMBER centre, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre, will lead an international project worth over €4.4 million under the European-funded “Future and Emerging Technologies - Open” (FET Open) programme. They are the first group in Ireland ever to coordinate such a project, from the most competitive science funding programme in the EU. FET Open funds visionary research and innovation for radically new future technologies, at an early stage, when there are few researchers working in a field. The success rate for this call was 4%.* Trinity’s share of the €4.4m budget is €1.7m.

March:Trinity Physicists Capture Magnetism from Empty Space

14 March 2016. Theoretical physicists have long believed that empty space is not a formless void. The vacuum is thought to be seething with zero-point energy, the inevitable quantum residue of every sort of electromagnetic radiation. Nobody has ever managed to find a way to tap this limitless store of energy, and the signs that it even exists are slender. Direct evidence is mainly based on a tiny shift of a few parts per billion in an energy level of hydrogen, discovered 70 years ago by Willis Lamb in the USA, and a minute force between metal plates when they are only a few nanometers apart in vacuum predicted around the same time by Dutchman Hendrik Casimir. Now, a team of scientists from the School of Physics working in Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Research on Advanced Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) have discovered a new and unexpected manifestation of this elusive energy. In a study of cerium dioxide nanoparticles – mainly used in catalytic converters that control toxic exhaust emissions from automobiles – Professor Michael Coey, his former PhD student Dr. Karl Ackland and Dr Munuswamy Venkatesan came across a strange magnetic effect. Quite unlike the behavior of normal magnets like iron, the effect did not vary at all with temperature. Stranger still, the magnetism only appeared when the particles were clumped together. Separating them into smaller clumps by diluting with nonmagnetic nanoparticles destroyed the magnetism. In a paper published on-line today in Nature Physics, the team that was completed by Professor Siddhartha Sen, a quantum field theorist renowned for his brilliant lectures in Trinity’s Mathematics Department, reported their findings, and came up with an astonishing explanation. Electrons in the clumps of tiny particles were responding to the vacuum electromagnetic field. Sen and Coey had recently predicted that such behavior might be possible in systems with an enormous surface area – a milligram speck of the cerium dioxide nanoparticles has as much surface area as an entire sheet of newspaper. Furthermore they predicted that when the particles were separated out into regions smaller that the wavelength of the light associated with them, the effect would disappear. This is exactly what was observed. As with any fundamental discovery in science, it is difficult to predict where this could lead. Others will want to test the results. The theory shows that effects can only be expected when there is a huge surface to volume ratio, as in the thin layers of interfacial water attached to biomolecules. Sen is already beginning to apply the ideas to protein folding. The zero point energy may never power our cars, but it might be shaping our lives. • Collective magnetic response of CeO2 nanoparticles, M. Coey, K. Ackland, M. Venkatesan and S. Sen, Nature Physics (2016) doi.10.1038/nphys3676 • Mesoscopic structure formation in condensed matter due to vacuum fluctuations, S. Sen, K. S. Gupta and J. M. D. Coey, Phys. Rev B 92 155115 (2015) Blue Skies Research: Dr. Munuswami Venkatesan, Prof. Michael Coey, Prof. Siddhartha Sen, Dr. Karl Ackland


Michael Coey wins prestigious Gutenberg prize. Strasbourg 23/01/2015

At a ceremony at the University of Strasbourg, the president of the Cercle Gutenberg, Professor Pierre Braunstein, announced the winners of the 2015. Gutenberg prizes and visiting professorships. Michael Coey, who will be carrying out a project on ‘Microfluidics without walls’ in collaboration with Bernard. Doudin of IPCMS and Thomas Heremans of ISIS was honoured, together with Veronique Dimier of Université Libre de Bruxelles whose project is on the ‘Influence of former British and French colonial administrators on the EU’s development policy in Africa’ and Giovanna Guidobon of the University of Indiana, whose project is on ‘Mathematical modeling of the circulation of blood in the brain’.

The Cercle Gutenberg, consisting of Nobel Laureates and Members of the French and other Academies of Science based in Alsace, has selected three Laureates every year since 2007. The award is €60,000 of which €50,000 is used to help support a research project at the University of Strasbourg. Michael Coey’s project aims to revolutionize microfluidics, an emerging technology that handles minute quantities of liquid reagents in channels about 100 microns wide for applications like in vitro diagnostics and new drug discovery. By using magnetic liquid confinement instead of solid walls to define the fluid channels he expects to overcome the main drawbacks of the technology – clogging, sluggish mixing and inflexible operation, thereby giving birth to a radical transformation of the ‘Lab on a Chip’.


Reasrchers discover world-first new material wich could revolutionise information technology

New ‘MRG’ material could lead to superfast technology and energy efficient data storage 25 years in the making and discovered by researchers at AMBER, Trinity College Dublin Scientists at AMBER, the materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin have discovered a completely new material, which could revolutionise information technology, computer processes and data storage. The world-first discovery was led by one of Ireland’s most highly-cited researchers Professor Michael Coey, a Principal Investigator at AMBER from Trinity’s School of Physics. The Centre is funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland. The research group led by Prof. Coey has created a completely new alloy of manganese, ruthenium and gallium, known as MRG. MRG is a strange new magnet; internally it is as magnetic as the strongest magnets available today, yet seen from the outside it barely appears magnetic at all. This world-first material (technically known as a “zero-moment half metal”) will initiate a completely new line of materials research and could open up numerous possibilities for electronics and information technology. The potential applications of MRG are many. It could lead to limitless data storage, resulting in huge, superfast memory in personal computer devices. It could also eliminate the potential of external magnetic forces to ‘wipe’ computer data. Finally, MRG could have major implications for the Big Data revolution. Commenting on the discovery, Michael Coey said, “Magnetic materials are what make reading and storing data – either on personal devices or on large scale servers in data centres – possible. Magnets are at the heart of every electronic device we use – from computers and laptops to tablets, smartphones and digital cameras. Given its unique insensitivity to magnetic fields, and the tenacity of its internal magnetic properties, MRG could now revolutionise how data is stored, which could have major implications for the future development of electronics, information technology and a host of other applications.” For 25 years, researchers worldwide have grappled with how to create a magnet such as MRG by trying to arrange numerous combinations of atoms in a way which was difficult without flouting the basic principles of physics. Now, AMBER researchers have solved this problem, by using established industry-standard processes for making the electronic circuits on silicon chips. MRG could therefore be adopted by computer and electronics companies relatively easily. Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock TD welcomed the announcement and said, “Here is a Government-funded research centre discovering innovative solutions to problems faced by the technology industry. I would like to praise the work of Prof. Coey and his team on this world first which opens up a range of potential applications in the electronics and information technology sectors.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “SFI Research Centres like AMBER, were established with a focus on delivering cutting edge, internationally excellent research, which will deliver real benefit to the economy and to industry. This discovery absolutely fits the bill and I congratulate Professor Coey and his team. Their discovery is a world first which could solve one of the major problems faced by the technology industry worldwide. This is the type of research which Ireland is, and will continue to be recognised for.”


Hongjun Xu wins the 2013 CRANN Image Competition

Hongjun Xu has won the 2013 CRANN Image Competition for his picture How does science start? The image is of a CVD grown nickel-graphene sample, and the colour was added.

Hongjun is the third member of the group to win CRANN Image Competition. Amir Esmaeily won in 2012 and Lorena Monzon won in 2011.

Closed pores of Anodic Aluminium Oxide (AAO) templates for the fabrication of one dimensional nanostructures by Amir Esmaeily

Electrochemical growth of hexagonal cobalt microcrystals on a substrates coated with polyaniline by Lorena Monzon. Background adapted from Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Michael Coey wins Humboldt Research Award

Professor Michael Coey is the recipient of a 2013 Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Foundation grants awards to internationally-renowned senior academics in any field in recognition of their entire research career. Prof. Coey has been granted €60,000 to pursue research on rare-earth free permanent magnets with Prof. Claudia Felser of the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Physics in Dresden.

Professor Michael Coey nominated to European Academy of Science

Professor Michael Coey has been elected to the European Academy of Science (EURASC). The European Academy of Science is an independent organisation that aims to promote excellence in science and technology. Based in Belgium, its members include Nobel Prize and Fields medal winners and some of the best European scientists having a vision for the scientific, economic and social future of Europe. Prof. Coey is the first Irish member.

Dr. Lorena Monzon secures Enterprise Ireland funding

Dr. Lorena Monzon has secured funding of €112, 911 from Enterprise Ireland for a one-year project beginning on 1st August 2013. Her project aims to improve the electropolishing process of medical devices, in collaboration with industrial partners.


New electron beam lithography system to be installed in CRANN

A dedicated electron beam lithography system is to be purchased and installed in CRANN. Electron beam lithography is a well-established top-down research method for creating nanoscale thin-film structures. It is versatile, and can be used for single nanoscale devices or large arrays of nano-objects. E-beam lithography complements UV lithography, which is used for micron-scale devices and structures.

The system is an Elionix 7700 75keV which we are acquiring from Notre Dame University in the USA. The tool has a laser stage for precise alignment and 10nm lateral resolution. Funding for the purchase and installation has come from the TCD-SFI Opportunistic Fund, and from CRANN.

Plamen Stamenov receives special SFI award

Prof. Plamen Stamenov has been awarded a Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) by SFI 2012-2017 (€ 500 K). This project will advance the Andreev reflection technique, a type of point-probe superconducting spectroscopy, which can be applied to determine spin polarization in many magnetic materials and device structures.

November: Prof Michael Coey named SFI 'researcher of the year'

19 November 2012 Professor Michael Coey, who specialises in the areas of spin electronics and magnetism, received the researcher of the year accolade from the Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, at SFI's science summit in Athlone, Co Westmeath. More details can be found in the following Silicon Republic article:

Magnetic Solutions Ltd. acquired by Tokyo Electron

Magnetic Solutions Ltd. has been acquired by Tokyo Electron. Magnetic Solutions (MSL), is the leading supplier of magnetic annealing systems and processes used in the development and manufacture of non-volatile memories such as MRAM and STT-RAM, read/write heads in high density disk drives, GMR and TMR sensors. It was founded as a TCD Campus Company in 1994 by Professor Coey, who served as a director from 1994-2006.

Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL), established in 1963, is a leading supplier of innovative semiconductor and FPD production equipment worldwide. Product lines include coater/developers, oxidation/diffusion furnaces, dry etchers, CVD systems, surface preparation systems, gas cluster ion beam technologies, and test systems.

New PhDs

Huseyin Tokuc has been awarded a PhD for his thesis of Organic/Ferromagnet Interfaces and Magnetoresistive Characteristics of Small Molecule Organic Semiconductor.

Two other group members, Simone Alborghetti and Damaris Fernandez Donoso, received their PhDs in 2012. Simone’s thesis was on Electron and Spin Injection in Short-Channel Organic Semiconducting Devices; he is now working in the Graphene Institute of the University of Singapore. Damaris received her PhD for a thesis on Influence of magnetic fields on cathodic growth of phases in acidic sulphate and acidic copper sulphate systems; she is currently working with Mike Lyons in the TCD Chemistry Department.

Huseyin Tokuc

Simone Alborghetti

Damaris Fernandez Donoso