Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > At Small Scales, Tug-of-War Between Electrons Can Lead to Magnetism Under Surprising Circumstances

Theoretical physicist Igor Zutic and colleagues hope to create a quantum dot that is magnetic.
Theoretical physicist Igor Zutic and colleagues hope to create a quantum dot that is magnetic.

Abstract:
At the smallest scales, magnetism may not work quite the way scientists expected, according to a recent paper in Physical Review Letters by Rafal Oszwaldowski and Igor Zutic of the University at Buffalo and Andre Petukhov of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

At Small Scales, Tug-of-War Between Electrons Can Lead to Magnetism Under Surprising Circumstances

Buffalo, NY | Posted on June 29th, 2011

The three physicists have proposed that it would be possible to create a quantum dot -- a kind of nanoparticle -- that is magnetic under surprising circumstances.

Magnetism is determined by a property all electrons possess: spin. Individual spins are akin to tiny bar magnets, which have north and south poles. Electrons can have an "up" or "down" spin, and a material is magnetic when most of its electrons have the same spin.

Mobile electrons can act as "magnetic messengers," using their own spin to align the spins of nearby atoms. If two mobile electrons with opposite spins are in an area, conventional wisdom says that their influences should cancel out, leaving a material without magnetic properties.

But the UB-South Dakota team has proposed that at very small scales, magnetism may be more nuanced than that. It is possible, the physicists say, to observe a peculiar form of magnetism in quantum dots whose mobile electrons have opposing spins.

In their Physical Review Letters article, the researchers describe a theoretical scenario involving a quantum dot that contains two free-floating, mobile electrons with opposite spins, along with manganese atoms fixed at precise locations within the quantum dot.

The quantum dot's mobile electrons act as "magnetic messengers," using their own spins to align the spins of nearby manganese atoms.

Under these circumstances, conventional thinking would predict a stalemate: Each mobile electron exerts an equal influence over spins of manganese atoms, so neither is able to "win."

Through complex calculations, however, Oszwaldowski, Zutic and Petukhov show that the quantum dot's two mobile electrons will actually influence the manganese spins differently.

That's because while one mobile electron prefers to stay in the middle of the quantum dot, the other prefers to locate further toward the edges. As a result, manganese atoms in different parts of the quantum dot receive different messages about which way to align their spins.

In the "tug-of-war" that ensues, the mobile electron that interacts more intensely with the manganese atoms "wins," aligning more spins and causing the quantum dot, as a whole, to be magnetic. (For a visual representation of this tug-of-war, see Figure 1.)

This prediction, if proven, could "completely alter the basic notions that we have about magnetic interactions," Zutic says.

"When you have two mobile electrons with opposite spins, the assumption is that there is a nice balance of up and down spins, and therefore, there is no magnetic message, or nothing that could be sent to align nearby manganese spins," he says. "But what we are saying is that it is actually a tug of war. The building blocks of magnetism are still mysterious and hold many surprises."

Scientists including UB Professor Athos Petrou, UB College of Arts and Sciences Dean Bruce McCombe and UB Vice President for Research Alexander Cartwright have demonstrated experimentally that in a quantum dot with just one mobile electron, the mobile electron will act as a magnetic messenger, robustly aligning the spins of adjacent manganese atoms.

Now, Petrou and his collaborators are interested in taking their research a step further and testing the tug-of-war prediction for two-electron quantum dots, Zutic says.

Zutic adds that learning more about magnetism is important as society continues to find novel uses for magnets, which could advance technologies including lasers, medical imaging devices and, importantly, computers.

He explains the promise of magnet- or spin-based computing technology -- called "spintronics" -- by contrasting it with conventional electronics. Modern, electronic gadgets record and read data as a blueprint of ones and zeros that are represented, in circuits, by the presence or absence of electrons. Processing information requires moving electrons, which consumes energy and produces heat.

Spintronic gadgets, in contrast, store and process data by exploiting electrons' "up" and "down" spins, which can stand for the ones and zeros devices read. Future energy-saving improvements in data processing could include devices that process information by "flipping" spin instead of shuttling electrons around.

Studying how magnetism works on a small scale is particularly important, Zutic says, because "we would like to pack more information into less space."

And, of course, unraveling the mysteries of magnetism is satisfying for other, simpler reasons.

"Magnets have been fascinating people for thousands of years," Zutic says. "Some of this fascination was not always related to how you can make a better compass or a better computer hard drive. It was just peculiar that you have materials that attract one another, and you wanted to know why."

Zutic's research on magnetism is funded by the Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation.

####

About University of Buffalo
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Charlotte Hsu

716-645-4655

Copyright © University of Buffalo

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Throwing new light on printed organic solar cells December 1st, 2016

Spintronics

Making spintronic neurons sing in unison November 18th, 2016

Scientists find technique to improve carbon superlattices for quantum electronic devices: In a paradigm shift from conventional electronic devices, exploiting the quantum properties of superlattices holds the promise of developing new technologies October 20th, 2016

A new spin on superconductivity: Harvard physicists pass spin information through a superconductor October 16th, 2016

NREL discovery creates future opportunity in quantum computing: Research into perovskites looks beyond material's usage for efficient solar cells September 9th, 2016

Discoveries

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Announcements

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Military

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells: Researchers combine quantum physics and photosynthesis to make discovery that could lead to highly efficient, green solar cells November 30th, 2016

New method for analyzing crystal structure: Exotic materials called photonic crystals reveal their internal characteristics with new method November 30th, 2016

Inside tiny tubes, water turns solid when it should be boiling: MIT researchers discover astonishing behavior of water confined in carbon nanotubes November 30th, 2016

Quantum Dots/Rods

Trickling electrons: Close to absolute zero, the particles exhibit their quantum nature November 10th, 2016

Notre Dame researchers find transition point in semiconductor nanomaterials September 6th, 2016

Quantum dots with impermeable shell: A powerful tool for nanoengineering August 12th, 2016

Diamond-based light sources will lay a foundation for quantum communications of the future: Electrified quantum diamond can become the heart of quantum networks and computers of the future August 7th, 2016

Research partnerships

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics November 28th, 2016

Single photon converter -- a key component of quantum internet November 28th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project