Stepping up spintronics

Stepping up spintronics with room temperature magnetism in molybdenum oxide nanoflakes

Growth in the number of smart electronic devices has sparked an increase in research interest in high functionality nanomaterials. Spintronic devices, which exploit a property of electron spin to process electronic data, have emerged as major players in this field. “For instance,” notes Professor Sejoon Lee from Dongguk University, Korea, “ultra-fast logic and memory circuits, low-power small and light electronic modules, and quantum computing systems are possible future applications of spintronics.”

Recently, 2D and quasi 2D materials, such as α-molybdenum oxide (α-MoO3), have gained research attention for use in spintronic devices, owing to their unique physical, chemical, mechanical, and structural characteristics. α-MoO3,inparticular, is attractive because of its structure, which comprises stacked 2D layers. This structure makes it ideal for introducing magnetism, enabling its more effective use in a number of devices than conventional 3D bulk materials.

Stepping up spintronics

To make an α-MoOnanoflake magnetic, scientists at Dongguk University, Korea, led by Prof Lee, doped tellurium atoms into its lattice, disrupting its structure and freeing up an electron. As electrons revolve around the nucleus of an atom, they also spin on their axis. This spin gives rise to magnetism called the spin magnetic moment. The spins of several overlapping electrons taken together make the nanomaterial magnetic. But for electron spin to give rise to magnetic moment, the electron must be unpaired. Thus, this freed electron in the α-MoOlattice adds magnetism to the material. Across the multiple stacked layers of the lattice, magnetism was felt even at room temperature. This exciting new study is published in ACS Nano, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

The scientists imaged the tellurium doped α-MoOnanoflakes with scanning electron microscopy and found that the surface was smooth, and the magnetism was spread evenly over the material. This is unlike the case of conventional transition metal-doped magnetic nanomaterials, in which the formation of magnetic clusters and the consequent degradation of ferromagnetic properties is a major problem.

Optimistic about the applications of this discovery, Dr. Lee says, “The synthesized nanoflake can be effectively used for fabricating high-quality room-temperature ferromagnetic semiconductor nanostructures. Since spintronic devices are both highly energy-efficient and very useful for rapidly processing large amounts of data, a new paradigm can be created in the electronics industry.”


Author: Sejoon Lee et. al

Title of original paper: Room-Temperature Ferromagnetic Ultrathin αMoO3: Te Nanoflakes

Journal: American Chemical Society Nano

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b01179

AffiliationsQuantum-functional Semiconductor Research Center, Dongguk University−Seoul 04623, Korea 2 Department of Semiconductor Science, Dongguk University−Seoul 04623, Korea

*Corresponding author’s email: 

About Dongguk University

Dongguk University, founded in 1906, is located in Seoul, South Korea. It comprises 13 colleges that cover a variety of disciplines and has local campuses in Gyeongju, Goyang, and Los Angeles. The university has 1300 professors who conduct independent research and 18000 students undertaking studies in a variety of disciplines. Interaction between disciplines is one of the strengths on which Dongguk prides itself; the university encourages researchers to work across disciplines in Information Technology, Bio Technology, CT, and Buddhism.

About the author

Dr. Sejoon Lee, the lead author of this paper, is Associate Professor at the Department of Semiconductor Science, Dongguk University, Korea. His research interests include semiconductor quantum-nanostructures, semiconductor nanodevices, neuromorphic devices, and future intelligent nanosensors. His ongoing project (2019-2023) on “Intelligent Electro-Acousto-Optically Drivable Neuromorphic Devices” is one of his continuing efforts to open new doors in nanoelectronics technology. He also currently serves as a Topic Editor of Nanomaterials (2019~).

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