UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Article on spintronics using two-dimensional materials features in a top academic journal

31 January 2022

Led by UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering's (EEE) Prof. Hide Kurebayashi, the research featured in Nature Reviews Physics.

Research figure

This latest review article summarises the fundamental properties of van der Waals (vdW) magnetic materials together with a perspective view of future research and applications.

The impact of this research on the wider public could prove significant.

For example, when we write something by a pencil, we mechanically break vdW bonding and a piece of graphite crystals is left on a paper. This process, known as mechanical exfoliation, can be perfectionated in research labs to fabricate one sheet of vdW materials. Graphene is the first example of this demonstration and most importantly was found to display remarkable electronic properties which do not appear in the form of graphite.

This discovery, with the ground-breaking nature recognised by the Nobel prize in physics in 2010, has opened up new research avenues of studying vdW materials at the monolayer limit, forming the research field of two-dimensional (2D) materials.

In 2017, scientists discovered that it is also possible to exfoliate magnetic vdW materials down to a few monolayers which show magnetic response. After the discovery, magnetic vdW materials have gained a great deal of attention as research object and many research groups across the world started studying magnetic vdW systems by their own research techniques. 

The research also presents unique properties of current-induced torques arising in vdW magnetic systems. These properties have potential of exploiting them for “Beyond-CMOS” technologies using electron spins, such as spin random-access-memory (RAM) and unconventional computing such as reservoir and neuromorphic computing. 

As Prof. Kurebayashi states: 

Controlling the electron spin at the two-dimensional limit has been sought after for many decades but it has been difficult to make and stabilise magnetism in a truly single monolayer. Now we start to know how to make it and it is extremely exciting to reveal their properties and to explore what we can do for future technologies.

"Magnetism, symmetry and spin transport in van der Waals layered systems"
H. Kurebayashi,  J. H. Garcia, S. Khan, J. Sinova, and S. Roche

Prof Kurebayashi's research group