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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M024423/1
Title: Consortium for advanced materials based on spin chirality
Principal Investigator: McVitie, Professor S
Other Investigators:
MacLaren, Dr DA McGrouther, Dr D Kadodwala, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 May 2015 Ends: 30 April 2020 Value (£): 756,507
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Magnetism/Magnetic Phenomena Materials Synthesis & Growth
Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Chirality is ubiquitous and underpins our understanding of research fields as diverse as particle physics and molecular biology. It is the symmetry property of an object to exist as distinguishable left- and right-handed forms. Chirality also governs useful electronic and optical properties of many advanced materials. We will now use our understanding of this electronic and structural chirality to create a variety of new technologies. We will establish an international consortium centred on the exploitation of electronic chirality in advanced materials, with a particular interest in their electromagnetic response. We will combine international expertise spanning the synthesis, characterisation and theory of chiral electronic media with an ambition to make advances in a variety of technologies, ranging from next generation information and communication technologies to improved bio-sensors. Our consortium comprises 4 core scientists and additional collaborators from across the University of Glasgow and 18 core scientists from Universities and Institutes in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyushu and Hiroshima. It will be augmented by collaboration with Ural Federal University, Russia and Monash University, Australia. It will be facilitated by a number of meetings, research visits, researcher exchanges and larger conferences involving the broader community.

We target three broad themes, in which our individual expertise will be stimulated by fresh perspectives brought by the consortium.

1) Atomic-scale electronic chirality and novel magnetic crystals.

A simple manifestation of electronic chirality is the emergence of magnetism. The most fundamental electronic correlations in chiral crystals can give rise to a variety of magnetic orderings, of which only a small subset (skyrmions) have been recognised as potentially useful. Our insight is to study the largely overlooked area of helicoidal media, which have spiral arrangements of magnetic moments and are more robust and easier to realise than skyrmions. We will combine our expertise in chiral materials (Hiroshima) with internationally-leading electron microscopy of magnetic materials (Glasgow) and theory (Urals) to propel an exploration of artificially designed and naturally occurring helicoidal magnetic materials that have strong potential for applications utilising magnetoresistance and magneto-optical response.

2) Micron-scale electronic chirality and chiral plasmonic metamaterials.

Plasmons - collective electronic excitations - can interact strongly with electromagnetic radiation, particularly in patterned metallic structures. We will explore chirally patterned media that we have already demonstrated to have a number of applications. For example, Glasgow has pioneered the use of such chiral plasmons as ultra-sensitive sensors for chiral biomolecules whilst Tokyo has expertise in the optical characterisation of such structures. A second application is the development of on-chip plasmonics to form the basis of a wide class of devices suitable for THz applications (Glasgow), which we will now augment by incorporating chiral patterned magnetic materials as reconfigurable components. These composite structures offer new possibilities for application as THz phase shifters or sensors for functionalised nanoparticles.

3) Chirally-sensitive electron probes.

The study of chiral materials is eased by the development of chiral-specific techniques. Glasgow has long-standing expertise in the use of chiral photon probes in the context of optical orbital angular momentum for light beams whilst Monash has expertise in forming analogous electronic probes that would be suitable for chirally-specific electron microscopy. Prototypical measurements in the use of such vortex beams for imaging plasmonic structures and chiral spin textures are already underway (Hiroshima, Glasgow) and will be employed for the first time in the study of materials generated in both of the above themes.
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