Plamen Stamenov elected a Fellow of Trinity College!
We are all extremely proud of Plamen Stamenov on his election to Fellowship this year. A very deserving candidate - Plamen has greatly contributed to both research and teaching in the School of Physics. A Trinity Monday like no other!
Lucy Prendeville went to Grenoble this March for the 30th edition of Hercules; the 5-week European school to learn about synchrotron and neutron radiation sources. Unfortunately, after two weeks all students had to return home as a result of Covid-19. However, the course continued online for the following three weeks over Zoom - consiting of both lectures and tutorial sessions. She had a fantastic experience and would like to thank all of the organisers for ensuring the continuation of lectures in such difficult circumstances.
The Hercules students of 2020!
AIMagn Association - 5th Italian Magnetism School
Three of our first year PhD students spent a week in Rome at the 5th Italian Magnetism School, organised by the AIMagn Association. They learned about a wide range of topics in magnetism including spintronics, magnonics, magnetocalorics and magnetometry! A huge thank you to all of the organisers of this very successful spring school - in particular to Gaspare Varvaro, a former summer student of our group!
Lucy Prendeville, Brian Shortall and Zexiang Hu
Brian Shortall awarded an IRC Scholarship!
Brian Shortall was awarded an IRC Scholarship as part of the Enterprise Partnership Scheme, co-funded by Analog Devices. Brian is a 1st year PhD student researching the thermal stability of exchange bias systems. Well done, we're all very proud of you!
New Group Members 2019
The group welcomes four new PhD students this year; Brian Shortall, Simon Lenne, Zexiang Hu and Lucy Prendeville.
Michael Coey presented with Lifetime Achievement Award
Michael Coey was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Trinity Innovation Awards. Find out more here.
The Provost of Trinity College, Patrick Prendergast, and Michael Coey
Michael Coey awarded the 2019 Max Born Medal
Michael Coey was awarded the 2019 Max Born Medal for 'for the understanding and description of the magnetic properties of novel magnetic materials, including amorphous alloys, magnetic oxides, half-metals and hard magnetic materials, and for pioneering their use in devices.' He is the first Irish physicist to receive this award.
Michael Coey with his Max Born Medal
Spin-orbit torque generation for terahertz spintronics mini-workshop
Magnetism and Spin Electronics Group presents a one day (12 April 2019) mini-workshop taking on Spin-orbit torque generation for terahertz spintronics!
New Group Members 2018
Four new PhD students joined the group this year; Tim Butcher, Ross Smith, Jack O'Brien and Sruthy Poulose.
New Magnetic Crop Spraying
MagGrow has developed a pioneering, patented spraying system for the horticulture & arable sectors of the agricultural industry. MagGrow's new spraying technology system reduces drift by up to 70% and delivers superior coverage by enabling you to spray using fine droplets - a key challenge for conventional spraying technology. For more information please visit MagGrow.
MaMi Innovative Training Network
The new Marie 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 MAMI.
The best times in science are at the beginning of something new!
New MOKE Microscope
The group has acquired a new magneto-optic Kerr effect microscope from Evico Magnetics Dresden. The tool will be used by Marie Curie EDGE fellow Dr. Niclas Teichert and others to study domains in zero-moment half metals and may offer new magnetic materials.
Mike Coey's portrait unveiled
Mike’s college portrait, painted by Carey 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 on the fourth floor of CRANN, 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.
d0 magnetism reviewed
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.
Image generation using VESTA.
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 directions . 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 2000 . 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 Nature  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 Nature  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!
Ireland China MANIAC Project
The kick-off meeting for the MANIAC project, funded by the partnership of SFI and NSFC, took place at the annual INTERMAG 2018 conference which was hosted by Singapore this year. As a part of the meeting Prof. Plamen Stamenov visited the facilities at Beihang University in Bejing.
New system, developed by DCA Instruments, Finland, will be capable of 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. All chambers will be UHV, connected via a UHV central hub, with entrance via 10-wafer loadlock. The system was funded by SFI, and will be a National Access Facility.
New group members 2017
Group-D Reunion at the INTERMAG 2017 Conference in Dublin
Fifteen hundred scientists came to Dublin in April fpr the 2017 INTERMAG conference. Group members, Michael Coey, Plamen Stamenov, Karsten Rode and Gavin D'Arcy all belonged to the local committee.
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 and San Juan for sponsoring the event. The picture below shows the graduates of the group in chronological order from oldest to newest as well as the current group members.
From left to right: Michael Coey, Jacqueline Allan, Hu Boping, David Hurley, Justin Lawlor, Yoshichika Otani, Michel Viret, Montse Enrech, James Gavigan, Xiaolei Rao, Christopher Murray, Aidan Quinn, Andreas Leithe-Jasper, Nora Dempsey, Laurent Ranno, Amanda Barry, James O’Sullivan, Rhian Mary Thomas, Gareth Hinds, Steffen Wirth, Xiufeng Han, Laurent Clochard, Munuswamy Venkatesan, Fernando Rhen, Cian Culliann, Ciaran Fowley, Ciara Fizgerald, Gen Feng, Robbie Gunning, Zhu Diao, Eoin Clifford, Steve Watts, Plamen Stamenov, Ciaran Fowley, Peter Dunne, Karl Ackland, Amir Esmaeily, Allan Walton, Anna Majher, ?, YangChang Lao, Davide Betto, Kiril Borisov, Stephen Porter, Jane O’Reilly, Kataryna Siewierska, Zolt Gercsi, Diego Saldanha da Rosa
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 December 2018.
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.
Magnetic switching without a magnetic field
Magnetic and electric switches underpin the information revolution. The magnetic switches are tiny patches of magnetic material that store the information; they can be magnetized in one of two opposite directions ‘up’ or ‘down’ to represent the binary digits ‘0’ and ‘1’. Everything we download daily onto our computers or mobile phones is stored magnetically on millions of spinning discs located in data centres scattered across the world. Unfortunately, writing and erasing all this information currently needs a magnetic field to switch the magnetic bits. These fields are produced by passing current pulses through minute coils, consuming vast amounts of energy in the process. Now a team in the Magnetism and Spin Electronics Group at Trinity College Dublin have devised an elegant scheme for magnetic switching that does away with any need for a magnetic field. Two PhD students, Yong Chang Lau from Malaysia and Davide Betto from Italy, working with senior researcher Karsten Rode and physics professors Michael Coey and Plamen Stamenov publish their results in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology this week . Their device consists of a stack of five metal layers, each of them a few nanometers thick. At the bottom of the stack is a layer made of platinum, and above it is the iron-based magnetic storage layer just six atoms thick. Platinum is a favourite of researchers in spin electronics (also known as spintronics), the technology that makes use of the property that each electron is a tiny magnet. Passing a current through the platinum separates the electrons with their magnetism pointing in opposite directions at the top and bottom surfaces. Those pumped into the storage layer try to switch its magnetic direction, thanks to an effect known a ‘spin-orbit torque’ that follows from Einstein’s theory of relativity. But like a pencil balanced on its point, the magnetism of the storage layer doesn't know which way to fall. The team designed the rest of the stack to solve that dilemma by acting like a nanoscale permanent magnet that creates the small field necessary to make the switching determinate, at zero cost in energy. The Group now plan to demonstrate a full memory cell, and an ultra-fast oscillator based on spin-orbit torque and layers of a novel magnetic alloy they developed recently. The thin film device stacks will be grown in a new SFI-funded thin film facility in the AMBER Centre at Trinity’s CRANN Institute for nanoscience. These new spintronic devices have potential to deliver the breakthrough needed to sustain the information revolution for another 25 years.
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’.
Researchers discover world-first new material which 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 http://www.eso.org/public/../img/eso1006a/ESO/J. 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: http://www.siliconrepublic.com/innovation/item/30198-tcds-prof-michael-coey/
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.
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.
Damaris Fernandez Donoso