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Neutrons—Mastering magnetism

Researchers developed a one-of-a-kind, high-pressure cell and used it on the Magnetism Reflectometer beamline at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to study the spatially confined magnetism in a lanthanum-cobalt-oxide thin film. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers have pioneered a new technique using pressure to manipulate magnetism in thin film materials used to enhance performance in electronic devices. They used neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source to explore the spacial density of atoms and observe how magnetism in a lanthanum-cobalt-oxide film changed with applied pressure. “We developed a novel method to identify the critical role that strain has on the magnetism of films and their interfaces,” said ORNL’s Michael R. Fitzsimmons. “This allows us to study magnetism in thin films without having to compare a lot of differently grown samples.” The new technique, described in Physical Review Letters, will enable novel studies into complex correlations between magnetism and pressure involving a broad class of thin films in a wide range of applications. The thin film materials were developed at ORNL, and complementary measurements were made at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source.Gage Taylor