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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M000923/1
Title: Spintronics at Leeds
Principal Investigator: Hickey, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Moore, Dr T Marrows, Professor CH Cespedes, Professor O
Burnell, Dr G
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Diamond Light Source Hitachi Europe Ltd Horiba UK Ltd
IBM UK Ltd ISIS Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Platform Grants
Starts: 13 October 2014 Ends: 12 April 2020 Value (£): 1,476,201
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Magnetism/Magnetic Phenomena Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 May 2014 Platform Grant Interviews - 20 May 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
With more than 300 papers published on the topic, the Condensed Matter group in Leeds is well known for its work on spintronics - a subject defined by the exploitation of the magnetic moment of electrons instead of charge. Recently the group has appointed two new members of staff bringing us expertise in organic spintronics (Cespedes) and nanomagnetism (Moore). Thus we are one of the first groups to develop high frequency equipment for molecular spintronics in order to research eco-friendly microwave devices. We are also exploring ways of switching magnetisation using the strain developed by an electric field - important for future storage applications. Although we have links among all members of the group, this Platform provides an excellent opportunity to take a strategic look at our activity.

Our broad research strategy will concern the general theme of spintronic metamaterials. Metamaterials are artificial in that the functional properties are not a feature of the natural occurring materials that form the building blocks, but emerge through design and engineering of material combinations. The artificial aspect is often introduced through nanostructuring. An early example arises in optics where sub-wavelength features give rise to new properties such as photonic band-gap crystals. Magnetic metamaterials were at the dawn of spintronics - a multilayer composed of alternating magnetic and non-magnetic metals displays giant magnetoresistance. These properties have been exploited to great advantage in computing and communication. We aim to move from common magnetoresistive devices and spin transport physics into microwave nanodevices that manipulate the interactions between electrons with phonons, magnons and other quasiparticles in hybrid structures.

Building on our recognised strengths of thin film growth, characterisation and magnetotransport we are proposing a programme of engineering materials in combinations that yield fruitful emergent properties - spintronic metamaterials. Our group has a broad background that includes the ability to structure materials at the nanoscale so that cooperative behaviour arises, e.g. combining superconductors with skyrmion spin textures, or injecting pure spin currents from magnets into organics. We will apply this capability to questions in areas identified as strategic such as quantum effects for new technology, beyond CMOS electronics, energy efficient electronics and new tools for healthcare.

We shall pursue this in a way that is very different from a traditional responsive-mode research project. We have identified areas that are scientifically and nationally important and where we can make impact in both academic and technological settings. We will not specify exactly which experiments will be performed, only the type of experiment that is possible. We will use the flexibility of platform funding to develop the independence of researchers beyond that achievable in a normal grant. As an example, there is a controversy at present about the role of heat and magnetic proximity effects in spin currents and their possibilities in non-dissipative, low power consumption electronics. With platform funding we can send a researcher to visit the relevant labs and attend the workshops who would then be in a good position to recommend the best course of action. The researcher would lead those experiments with full support for necessary resources - including and encouraging, if appropriate, the contribution of PhD students and other PDRAs. This general approach can be applied across our whole platform programme to any emerging problems in the field. This is career-enhancing because researchers, at this stage of their research, can usually only gain this level of autonomy if they are independent Research Fellows. This background will fast track them for Research Fellowships or good positions in industry or top level institutions looking for individuals with initiative and vision.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk