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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L006669/1
Title: Three-Dimensional Artificial Spin-Ice
Principal Investigator: Ladak, Dr S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Imperial College London University of Bristol
Department: School of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: Cardiff University
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 October 2013 Ends: 30 September 2015 Value (£): 87,332
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Magnetism/Magnetic Phenomena Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Jul 2013 EPSRC Physical Sciences Materials - July 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Frustration is when the pairwise interactions within a system cannot be simultaneously satisfied and the phenomena is important in explaining a diverse range of phenomena, from the production of solar flares to bonding within water-ice. In order to study frustration, physicists look for ideal systems where the interaction between physical elements, such as spin, can be directly probed via experiment. One such condensed matter system that has recently been subject of intense study is the spin-ice materials. These are bulk crystals where spins are located on the corners of joint tetrahedra. There are four spins per tetrahedra, and each of these can point either into or out from the centre of the tetrahedron. The spins, which would like to sit head-to-tail with each of their neighbours, are frustrated and this leads to a minimum energy configuration known as the ice-rules where two spins point into the centre of the tetrahedra and two spins point out. Flipping a single spin on a tetrahedron leads to an ice-rule violating defect with finite magnetic charge in the centre. These defects interact via a magnetic equivalent to Coulombs law and are magnetic monopoles in the vector fields M and H. The realisation of monopoles in spin-ice is exciting and has lead to a new field where the movement of magnetic charges (Magnetricity) is studied. Two-dimensional nanostructures can be fabricated in geometries that can simulate bulk spin-ice materials and these systems (Artificial spin-ice) have also shown to be home to monopole defects and exotic phase transitions that are driven by the frustration intrinsic to the lattice. However, in order to capture a complete physical model of bulk spin-ice, a 3D geometry is required.

This study will fabricate 3D artificial spin-ice structures. Fabrication will be carried out with a novel direct laser writing lithography system that is capable of carving out 3D holes within a resist on the sub-micron scale. These holes can then be filled with a magnetic material such as Nickel. Structures will be made such that they mimic the exact 3D geometry of the magnetic moments on a bulk spin-ice lattice, allowing a direct analogy between the two materials. The magnetic reversal will be studied using a combination of magnetometry and microscopy in order to distinguish phenomena arising from the surface and from the bulk. The work will explore the possibility of creating monopole defects in 3D artificial spin-ice systems, and explore their dynamics in samples of varying defect density.

Key Findings
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