New production method makes crystalline microstructures universally usable – sciencedaily


New storage and information technologies require new, more efficient materials. One of these materials is iron yttrium garnet, which has special magnetic properties. Thanks to a new process, it can now be transferred to any material. Developed by physicists at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the method could advance the production of smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient components for data storage and information processing. Physicists published their results in the journal Letters of Applied Physics.

Magnetic materials play a major role in the development of new storage and information technologies. Magnonics is an emerging field of research that studies spin waves in crystalline layers. Spin is a type of intrinsic angular momentum of a particle that generates a magnetic moment. The deflection of the spin can propagate waves in a solid body. “In magnenic components, electrons would not have to move to process information, which means they would consume much less energy,” explains Professor Georg Schmidt of the Institute of Physics at MLU. It would also make them smaller and faster than previous technologies.

But until now it has been very expensive to produce the materials needed for this. Iron Yttrium Garnet (YIG) is often used because it has the good magnetic properties. “Until now, the problem has been that the very thin, high-quality layers required can only be produced on a specific substrate and cannot be detached,” explains Schmidt. The substrate itself has unfavorable electromagnetic properties.

Physicists have now solved this problem by causing the material to form bridge-like structures. This allows it to be produced on the ideal substrate and then removed. “Then, in theory, these little pads can be glued to any material,” says Schmidt. The method was developed in his laboratory and is based on a manufacturing process that can be performed at room temperature. In the current study, the scientists glued the platelets, which are only a few square micrometers in size, to sapphire and then measured their properties. “We have also had good results at low temperatures,” says Schmidt. This is necessary for many high frequency experiments performed in quantum magnetism.

“The iron garnet and yttrium wafers could also be glued to silicon, for example,” says Schmidt. This semiconductor is very frequently used in electronics. Additionally, other thin film microstructures of any shape can be produced from YIG. According to Schmidt, this is particularly exciting for hybrid components in which spin waves are coupled with electrical waves or mechanical vibrations.

The study was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) as part of the Collaborative Research Center / Transregio 227.

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