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Welcome to the website of the European project SpinIcur.

The project was funded by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under the People Programme. The duration of the project is 48 months, starting from 1st December 2012. This network brings together 9 international partners, 1 associated partner, 11 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) and 4 Experienced Researchers (ER).

SpinIcur (from spin currents) was a training network of European experts dedicated to providing state-of-the-art education and training for early stage (post graduate) and experienced (post-doctoral) researchers.

SpinIcur concentrated on an aspect of spintronics – pure spin currents– and specific technical goals to develop a high level of industrial involvement and strong collaborations across the network of ten leading European research groups and companies. The overarching objective of the network was to significantly enhance the employment prospects of the 11 PhD students (ESRs) and 4 Post-doc (ERs) by:

  1. choosing a scientific subject that has high impact and is close to exploitation,
  2. ensuring that all researchers receive complementary skills training that is relevant to industry and academia,
  3. providing projects in world-leading laboratories, with world-class personnel and collaborating with industrial giants (IBM or Hitachi),
  4. ensuring that all the researchers spend a secondment with our industrial partners.

 


This project ended on the 30 November 2016.

Spintronics offers the potential for logic operations that are faster and consume much lower power when compared to conventional semiconductors. Passive spintronic devices are already the basis for a multi-billion dollar industry producing read heads for hard discs and storage cells in MRAM. Alternatives to semiconductor RAM and logic are being actively sought with spintronics offering exciting possibilities such as: the Spin Hall Effect, spin pumping and the spin Seebeck effect to name a few – all of these effects are based on spin currents. 

Pure spin currents are a consequence of a charge current flowing across the interface between a ferromagnet and a normal metal.  The charge current is spin polarised as it derives from a ferromagnet whereas currents in normal metals are not polarised.  At the interface therefore there will be more carriers of one spin creating an accumulation.  Since there is a concentration of spins at the interface there will be diffusion of that spin away from the interface and importantly, diffusion of the opposite spin towards the interface.  Equal numbers of spins will travel in opposite directions so that there is no net flow of charge and hence no energy losses due to Joule heating.  Under these conditions the spin current is known as a pure spin current and may be exploited to reduce the energy costs of future electronics.     

These pure spin currents and their fundamental understanding is the scientific objective of SPINICUR, an FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN:316657 that ran from 2012 to 2016. SpinIcur (from spin currents) is a training network of European experts dedicated to providing state-of-the-art education and training for early stage and experienced researchers.

The training was delivered using secondments, lectures and hands-on intensive topical courses.  These instruments, developed within Spinicur, have worked very well and have served as a model for use in the future.  There was a good mix of directed training and training requested by the fellows through their training needs exercises.  The training was flexible so that the needs of the fellows were catered for including the development of additional sessions such as the PhD exercise in Regensburg where students presented the outline of their thesis to the other fellows and academics.  Experienced staff from the labs led teams of the fellows though a series of tasks designed to teach them the basics of sample preparation and characterisation. They all had the opportunity to learn how to use the state-of–the-art facilities unique to the respective labs.  All fellows reported that the experience was very useful and has helped a great deal in getting them up to speed in their own labs. In general, the feedback from the fellows regarding training was excellent.  

Spinicur fellows organized or participated in many different outreach activities, ranging from Open Days for School Pupils to European Research Nights.  These events are organised by a host institution and involve the fellows presenting lectures, discussing posters and making demonstrations, tours round the laboratory all designed to engage the public with physics and in particular, Spinicur research topics.

Spinicur fellows delivered a total of 24 talks (including three invited) and 19 posters at international conferences, by any standard this is an exceptional number because the distribution was not evenly spread – where fellows engaged fully they delivered about three times more than the average for students outwith networks like Spinicur. This did a great deal to help advertise the Spinicur collaboration and has enhanced the career prospects of the fellows.   One fellow won a best presentation prize and Dr Y Cao was elected chair of the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) in conjunction with the GRC held in Hongkong in 2015

There have been several scientific breakthroughs by SpinIcur:

  • MTJs with industrial performance and reproducibility are now available (TMR of 150% and an RA of 2.5 Ωmm2)
  • Extremely good, nm-thickness YIG has been developed (bulk Ms and <0.3 nm surface roughness)
  • Tunable spin transfer torque oscillators without breakdown are now available
  • The controversy over the magnitude of the transverse spin Seebeck effect has been resolved
  • Predicted superior figures of merit for spin valve detection of thermally generated spin currents
  • Novel spin injection devices have been fabricated based on LiTi2O4
  • Current induced switching anti-ferromagnetic CuMnAs has been observed.
  • An improved magnetic imaging technique has been developed
  • A new transport theory has been developed that includes the effects of ‘spin-swapping’. 
  • AlOx-MTJ is an excellent alternative for sensors aiming optimized properties at reduced production cost and unpaired process simplicity.
  • In lateral spin valves, improved sample growth has resulted in spin diffusion lengths that are much longer than ever published for this system – up to a 100% improvement – and there is no downturn at low temperatures. 
  • Separation of Joule and Peltier effects in lateral spin valves.
  • Enhancement of spincurrent signal at room temperature by the introduction of localised impurity sites.
  • Longitudinal Spin Seebeck Effect has been found in Pt/YIG samples but there is no evidence for a transverse effect.
  • Extremely low damping has been found (2 x 10-4) in optimised YIG sampes
  • In the YIG/Pt system, we have found evidence for Gd diffusion from the GGG substrate into the YIG and accounted for the low-temperature magnitisation that results. 
  • Nuclear spin polarisation has been generated and observed in Fe/GaAs systems where the nuclear spin is pumped from an electronic spin current. The slow decay of the nuclear spin polarisation provides a memory mechanism for electron spin currents.
  • Theory has progressed in the strong coupling regime to include magnon-polariton coupling and results are now available for spherical YIG samples in a microwave cavity. 
  • Spin wave propagation has been measured at lengths exceeding 10 microns.

 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 316657