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Initial Training Network in Nanoscale Semiconductor Spintronics

Final Report Summary - SEMISPINNET (Initial Training Network in Nanoscale Semiconductor Spintronics)


FINAL PUBLISHABLE SUMMARY REPORT, 1st December 2008 – 30th November 2012

Marie Curie Initial Training Network 215368-SemiSpinNet

Co-ordinator: Professor Bryan Gallagher, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Website: http://www.semispin.net

1. Summary of project objectives

The SemiSpinNet project established a unique intersectorial training ground for early career researchers in the field of semiconductor spintronics and nanospintronics, comprising 10 full partners and 4 associated partners representing 10 EU member states. The project objectives were as follows:

a) To bring together leading research groups with wide ranging interdisciplinary and intersectorial expertise, extending the state-of-the-art in understanding, exploiting, and providing training in semiconductor spintronics.
b) To deliver a research programme to fully explore and exploit exciting new directions in nanospintronics, enabling Europe to establish a clear lead in this highly competitive research area.
c) To provide a mechanism for knowledge transfer between academia and industry, and exposing early-career researchers to industry-led training, thus forging a route to commercialization of the science.
d) To exploit synergies between the experimental/theoretical and academic/industrial partners, thus overcoming fragmentation and maximizing research effectiveness across the European research area.
e) To give researchers access to a much wider pool of expertise and infrastructure than would be available in a single-host project, ensuring the interdisciplinary excellence of qualified personnel required to meet the needs of the European high technology sectors.

2. Research activities and key results

Research within SemiSpinNet was divided into 4 complementary and interlinked themes:

i) Utilizing the functionality and versatility of magnetic semiconductor devices to provide new insights into the fundamentals of nanospintronics and enable prototype device structures;
ii) Investigation of the growth and properties of low-dimensional magnetic systems such as core/shell nanowires and quantum dot structures doped with magnetic impurities, with potentially enhanced magnetic, electronic or optical functionality;
iii) Development of semiconductor spintronics and nanospintronics device concepts towards potential room temperature applications;
iv) Materials design and modelling of spin transport and spin-orbit phenomena.

The network’s collaborative research activities resulted in several key breakthroughs in demonstrating and understanding spintronic phenomena with potential technological relevance, such as electrically controlled magnetism, magnetic vortex dynamics, spin injection, and design of new materials including topological crystalline insulators and antiferromagnetic semiconductors. Our work resulted in 3 patent applications, publications in leading scientific journals including Nature Materials and Nature Physics, and invited talks at the leading international conferences and workshops in the field. Wider dissemination activities have included TV and radio interviews, newspaper articles, press releases, and public news articles on institutional websites.

3. Training activities

SemiSpinNet delivered a total of 511.75 months of researcher training during its 4-year duration. The principal training activities were as follows:

i) Host-led activities, including individual hands-on research training based around a specific research project, tutorials, taught courses, and complementary skills training (language and communication skills, IP protection, career development...);
ii) Visits and secondments to partner laboratories, co-operating in research, developing new skills, and experiencing new working environments;
iii) Network-wide training activities, including a year 1 research training school to develop key skills in nanofabrication and micromagnetic characterization, and a year 3 industry-led training school focused on research and development of future technologies;
iv) Attendance and presentation of results at network meetings and international conferences, including major events organized by the network partners in years 2 and 4.

The multi-site nature of the project enabled a much broader programme of specialized and complementary skills training than could be achieved at a single site, and enhanced and deepened the interactions between partners in research and training.

4. Potential impact

Advances made within the research themes of SemiSpinNet have delivered new insights into the coupling of charge and spin degrees of freedom in semiconductors and metals, which point the way towards new routes for realistic applications, particularly in information and communications technologies. The collective expertise and infrastructure of the SemiSpinNet partners constitutes a network of excellence which is capable of firmly addressing the interdisciplinary challenges in the research field, and training researchers in the intersectorial and interdisciplinary skills required to progress the field towards commercialization. This has generated a cohort of scientists, equipped with key skills for nanotechnology research in both academic and industrial research, and with a clear understanding of the benefits of collaborative research.