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Organic-Ferromagnetic hybrid interfaces for Spintronic applications

Final Report Summary - OFSPIN (Organic-Ferromagnetic Hybrid Interfaces for Spintronic Applications)

This was the first European Commission (EC) supported project dedicated to organic spintronics. In fact, it actually pioneered many aspects and as a spin-off created a nucleus around which not only a European but a worldwide scientific community has been created.

Spintronics seeks to harness not only the charge but also the spin of electrons. OFSPIN is the largest international coordinated effort seeking to promote and further understand the use and possibilities of Organic semiconductors (OSCs). This is seen as a field with great potential that could revolutionise the electronics industry, as a viable alternative to silicon-based technology, and providing a platform for more efficient, ecological and cost effective technologies.

OFSPIN is the first team to dedicate themselves to the development of interfaces in hybrid materials and heterostructures consisting of layers of inorganic ferromagnets grown on or intercalated with soft plastic materials. Their development of these hybrid interfaces has provided means for the preservation of the most useful and desirable properties and parameters for the given application at both sides of the interface. On the other hand, the dramatic tailoring of the properties of both materials can lead to considerable and fundamental modifications of their properties. Subsequently, new magnetically active states can be induced in an organic semiconductor by a proximity effect from the adjacent ferromagnetic material, and these states can, in principle, modify the spin selection efficiency at these interfaces.

OFSPIN has dedicated considerable efforts to improving the quality of individual components of these hybrid nanomaterials, pushing the quality of various ferromagnetic materials well beyond the state of the art. The growth mechanisms of both ferromagnetic films deposited on soft organic layers and of organic layers deposited on various ferromagnetic films have been investigated in great detail, generating a detailed understanding of the best combinations for given applications. This has allowed the fabrication of hybrid inorganic / organic interfaces with efficient and reproducible charge / spin injection along with the creation of organic layers with long spin diffusion paths and superior transport properties.

The project has resulted in the introduction of innovative tools for use in the fields of spintronics and magnetoelectronics (magnetic tunnel devices on flexible organic layers), bringing brilliant new possibilities for more efficient, flexible and effective electronics and gadgets.

OFSPIN has provided significant new knowledge of the fundamentals in the fascinating field of spin transfer at hybrid interfaces - it has also made the first step towards a clear identification of the potential of organic spintronics in real applications. The discovered and acquired knowledge on hybrid interfaces allowed for the project to achieve many outstanding and important results in organic spintronics.

The next step of research will move from the examination stage towards a radical and deliberate modification of hybrid organic-inorganic interfaces. Dedicated EC projects along this line could be decisive for the entry of such innovative beyond-silicon materials in the Informationa and communication technologies (ICT) field.