2D insulators with ferromagnetism are uncommon; scientists simply distinguished a new one

Teaming up researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Princeton University have found a new layered ferromagnetic semiconductor, an uncommon kind of material that holds extraordinary guarantee for next-generation electronic technologies.

As the name suggests, semiconductors are the Goldilocks of electrically conductive materials- – not a metal, and not an insulator, but a “just-right” in the middle of whose directing properties can be altered and customized in manners that make the reason for the world’s modern electronic capabilities. Particularly uncommon are the onescloser to an insulator than to a metal.

The recent revelation of ferromagnetism in semiconducting materials has been restricted to a handful of for the most part chromium-based compounds. In any case, here, the analysts found ferromagnetism in a vanadium-iodine semiconductor, a material which has for quite some time been known however ignored; and which researcher Tai Kong contrasted with finding a “hidden treasure in our own backyard.” Now a postdoctoral specialist in the lab of Robert J. Cava, the Russell Wellman Moore Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University, Kong finished PhD research at the Ames Laboratory under supervision of Paul C. Canfield. What’s more, when new material could have ferromagnetic response, Kong turned to Ames Laboratory for the magneto-optical visualization of magnetic domains that serves as the definitive proof of ferromagnetism.

“Being able to exfoliate these materials down into 2D layers gives us new opportunities to find unusual properties that are potentially useful to electronic technology advances,” said Kong. “It’s sort of like getting a new shape of Lego bricks. The more unique pieces you have, the cooler the stuff you can build.”

The advantage of ferromagnetism in a semiconductor is that electronic properties become spin-dependent. Electrons align their spins along internal magnetization.

“This creates an additional control knob to manipulate currents flowing through a semiconductor by manipulating magnetization, either by changing the magnetic field or by other more complex means, while the amount of current that can be carried may be controlled by doping (adding small amount of other materials),” said Ames Laboratory Scientist Ruslan Prozorov. “These additional ways to control behavior and the potential to discover novel effects are the reason for such high interest in finding insulators and semiconductors that are also ferromagnets.”

The exploration is additionally examined in the paper, “VI3–a New Layered Ferromagnetic Semiconductor,” authored by Tai Kong, Karoline Stolze, Erik I. Timmons, Jing Tao, Danrui Ni, Shu Guo, Zoë Yang, Ruslan Prozorov, and Robert J. Cava; and featured on the back cover of Advanced Materials.

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