CORDIS - EU research results

Spin dynamics and transport at the quantum edge in low dimensional nanomaterials

Final Report Summary - SYLO (Spin dynamics and transport at the quantum edge in low dimensional nanomaterials)

Spintronics is a contemporary notion of a prospective computing architecture which would eventually replace conventional electronics and it would in theory provide sustainable development in informatics for several decades to come. The basic idea behind spintronics is that the spin direction of electrons, which is essentially a quantum physics property, is preserved much longer for an electron ensemble than their momentum (or current direction). Conventional electronics is based on the latter while spintronics would be based on the electron spin as information carrier. This field is at present further away from realization, even though some successful prototypes, e.g. spin based memories, have been demonstrated. The state-of-the-art fundamental research is focused on the measurement of the spin-relaxation (or decoherence) time and also on the theoretical understanding of the spin-relaxation mechanisms, as well as on the quest for materials which are suitable for spintronics.
The ERC funded SYLO project (Spin dynamics and transport at the quantum edge in novel nanostructural materials) performed fundamental research in spintronics with a synergistic combination of instrument development, spin-relaxation measurements, and theoretical modeling. The work was performed by a team of young and motivated physicists with a mixture of experimentalists and theoreticians possessing a strong background in condensed matter physics from the traditional Hungarian school. One major achievement was to provide the unified phase diagram of spin-relaxation in metals and semiconductors including various physical factors such as crystal symmetry, strength of electron-electron and spin-orbit interaction. This development is coined as the "grand unified theory" of spin-relaxation.
The investigated materials were novel carbonaceous nanomaterials and include carbon nanotubes, graphene, topological insulators and boron doped diamond. Of primary interest was the measurement of the spin-relaxation time in these materials. We discovered the electron spin resonance signal in boron doped diamond, which enabled a measurement of the spin-relaxation time of the itinerant electrons in doped diamond for the first time. The result may lead to a fully diamond based integrated spintronics device in the future. A unique, optical spectrometer and a superconducting magnet based optically detecting magnetic resonance spectrometer, has been developed in the framework of the project. The spectrometer will allow an unprecedented insight into the spin-dynamics of optical excitations in carbon nanotubes. Understanding this phenomenon is vital for the application of carbon nanotubes for light harvesting applications and optoelectronics.
The project and the team have published 31 scientific communications with a cumulative impact factor of 120, including a book chapter of over 50 pages. The team also completed over 20 undergraduate theses which summarize scientific work performed by young researchers. 6 of the graduated student are now pursuing PhD studies in renowned universities abroad. 4 PhD theses are underway at present within the group. 5 of the about 20 person strong workforce, which was employed during the project, are female physicists.