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NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M Grant for research on novel material systems

Date of news: 21 September 2022

Nadine Hauptmann, researcher in Scanning Probe Microscopy within the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) at Radboud University has been awarded an NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M Grant. This is a funding instrument of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) aimed at research questions in or overlapping the fields of earth sciences, astronomy, chemistry, computer science, life sciences, physics and mathematics. Hauptmann will study magnetic exchange interactions at the atomic scale in the research project entitled ‘Quantifying magnetic exchange forces between individual atoms’. “ I am very excited with this grant, as it allows us to characterize and design fundamental “knobs” to tune the magnetic exchange interaction in between individual adatoms on surfaces.”

Magnetic coupling at the atomic scale

Magnetically coupled adatoms on surfaces are currently explored as a route for designing energy-efficient data storage and information processing devices at the atomic scale. The key to stabilize magnetic structures are the various magnetic exchange interactions, such as isotropic direct and indirect Heisenberg exchange interactions or anisotropic exchange interactions. To deliberately design and manipulate coupled magnetic adatoms towards implementing functionality for applications, it is necessary to quantify the different magnetic exchange interactions in between individual atoms at the atomic scale, and understand the “knobs” to turn in order to achieve a specific magnetic coupling. These physical “knobs” are for example the influence of the number and orbital type of the electrons, noncollinear alignments of the magnetic moments, the chemical environment, and spin orbit coupling. “Our project will advance the fundamental understanding of the magnetic interaction in between individual adatoms on surfaces, which is a key ingredient to implement arrays of coupled magnetic adatoms for potential future energy-efficient data storage and information processing devices.”

Figure 1: SP-STM image of individual Co adatoms deposited on the spin spiral in a single layer Mn/W(110) (scale bar = 1nm).

Figure 1: SP-STM image of individual Co adatoms deposited on the spin spiral in a single layer Mn/W(110) (scale bar = 1nm).

Research project

The main goal of the research project is to directly quantify the magnetic exchange force in between individual atoms and to detail the influence of the orbital occupation, noncollinearity of the magnetic moments, and spin-orbit coupling to the exchange force field. “We will shed light on how a chemically functionalized magnetic tip can enhance the sensitivity for a specific magnetic exchange mechanism. Our approach is to quantify the magnetic exchange force field above individual adatoms on a substrate using the combination of sensing spin-polarized current and exchange forces (called SPEX) that has been developed in the SPM department in Nijmegen”, Hauptmann says. The grant includes the employment of a PhD and equipment for single-atom deposition.

This research work is principally fundamental with the potential to advance the design and predictability of suited nanoscale magnetic material systems for energy efficient data storage. The project will have a strong scientific impact on both the short and long-term timescale in surface magnetism, condensed matter, as well as molecular magnetism.

Scanning Probe Microscopy

Nadine Hauptmann is Assistant Professor in the Scanning Probe Microscopy group. The research group is part of IMM. The group focuses on advancing the state-of-the-art scanning probe techniques in order to understand both fundamental and technological problems in condensed matter physics as well as in surface chemistry. They study condensed matter physics focusing on magnetic and electronic imaging in cryogenic environments in magnetic fields.  Hauptmann is building her own research group. ”Our aim is to completely understand and, ultimately, fully control the different magnetic interactions at the atomic scale.”

NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M

NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M (ENW-M) grants are intended for curiosity-driven scientific research of high quality. The ENW-M grant offers researchers the opportunity to elaborate original, innovative, risky ideas and to realise scientific innovations that can form the basis for the research themes of the future.

We warmly congratulate Nadine with her grant!

More information
NWO press release:
For more information, please contact
Nadine Hauptmann, Nadine.Hauptmann@ru.nl
IMM Communications: imm-communication@ru.nl