As data keeps growing by more than 40% each year, we need to find new ways for small, fast and energy efficient data processing and storage. Research on magnetic nanostructures may lead to a potential solution, offering a promising avenue for future technologies.
In materials, every atom has a tiny magnet due to electron spin. Normally, these magnets point in random directions, making the material non-magnetic. To create a permanent magnet, all these tiny magnets have to align. A unique and stable topological nanostructure formed by these magnets holds significant promise for enhancing both the capacity and speed of upcoming hard drives. The rapid formation of these structures is being studied since longtime. However, its exact mechanism is still not fully understood, therefore additional research is needed.
In his master project, Liefferink focused on topological nanostructures, and magnetic skyrmions in particular. He used computer simulations and collaborated with experimentalists to understand what happens after a laser pulse hits the material. Based on extensive simulations, he developed a simple model focusing on energy barriers for creating and removing topological nanostructures by rapid heating with a laser pulse. This model effectively explains the main experimental results. These exceptional achievements resulted in a thesis grade of 9.5 and, very impressively, in two publications, one in Nano Letters and one submitted to Physical Review Letters - both high impact academic journals.
Liefferink did his master under supervision of Johan Mentink in the Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Correlated Materials group of the IMM. The research group aims to explore and control matter where short-range quantum interactions has evolved in macroscale correlations. To tackle these problems, they develop novel experimental, theoretical and computational approaches allowing time-resolved measurements with subpicosecond resolution as well as modelling such ultrafast processes to gain insight in the physical mechanisms. “I had a great collaboration between me and my supervisor, but also with colleagues in Germany and between theorists and experimentalists. I am really grateful for the mutual benefits of this opportunity, and I am very happy I was able to make the most of it!”, Liefferink says.
As the oldest learned society in the Netherlands, the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) acts as an effective meeting place for leading figures in academia and beyond. Awards and scholarships are made possible through donations from companies, foundations, funds, and societies.
The award ceremony will take place on November 27th, 2023.
We warmly congratulate Rein with this prize.