Spintronics: A new tool at BESSY II for chirality investigations

The picture reflects the main effect measured with a newly developed instrument ALICE II at BESSY II: A circular polarised soft-X-ray beam scatters off a crystal that exhibits a helical or conical magnetic order. This leads to two scattered beams of different intensity. The difference in intensity of these scattered beams is a measure of the chirality of the equidistant magnetic helices.

The picture reflects the main effect measured with a newly developed instrument ALICE II at BESSY II: A circular polarised soft-X-ray beam scatters off a crystal that exhibits a helical or conical magnetic order. This leads to two scattered beams of different intensity. The difference in intensity of these scattered beams is a measure of the chirality of the equidistant magnetic helices. © F. Radu/HZB

Information on complex magnetic structures is crucial to understand and develop spintronic materials. Now, a new instrument named ALICE II is available at BESSY II. It allows magnetic X-ray scattering in reciprocal space using a new large area detector. A team at HZB and Technical University Munich has demonstrated the performance of ALICE II by analysing helical and conical magnetic states of an archetypal single crystal skyrmion host. ALICE II is now available for guest users at BESSY II.

The new instrument was conceived and constructed by HZB physicist Dr. Florin Radu and the technical design department at HZB in close cooperation with Prof. Christian Back from the Technical University Munich and his technical support. It is now available for guest users at BESSY II as well.

“ALICE II has an unique capability, namely to allow for magnetic X-ray scattering in reciprocal space using a new large area detector, and this at up to the highest allowed reflected angles”, Radu explains. To demonstrate the performance of the new instrument, the scientists examined a polished sample of Cu2OSeO3.

Mott-Insulator examined

Cu2OSeO3 is a Mott insulator with a cubic crystal structure which lacks inversion symmetry. This results in the development of helical magnetic ordering: magnetic spins rotating clock- or anticlock- wise with respect to the propagation direction. The magnetic ion is Copper (Cu) and the chirality of the magnetic texture cannot be reversed by external stimuli. The sample quality, which is of key importance, was assured by Dr. Aisha Aqueel.

Novel way to investigate magnetic textures

The scientists could observe helical and conical magnetic modulations as satellite reflections around the specular peak via x-ray magnetic scattering with circularly polarized x-rays. “What’s more: the chirality information of the underlying spin textures is encoded as its dichroic intensity”, Radu points out. These results pave a novel way to investigate chiral and polar magnetic textures with ultimate spatial resolution and at the very short time scales typical to synchrotron X-ray experiments, and expand a range of materials for the topological spintronics via fast screening of candidate materials.

Note: The project was funded by BMBF and HZB

arö

You might also be interested in

  • New monochromator optics for tender X-rays
    Science Highlight
    30.11.2022
    New monochromator optics for tender X-rays
    Until now, it has been extremely tedious to perform measurements with high sensitivity and high spatial resolution using X-ray light in the tender energy range of 1.5 - 5.0 keV. Yet this X-ray light is ideal for investigating energy materials such as batteries or catalysts, but also biological systems. A team from HZB has now solved this problem: The newly developed monochromator optics increase the photon flux in the tender energy range by a factor of 100 and thus enable highly precise measurements of nanostructured systems. The method was successfully tested for the first time on catalytically active nanoparticles and microchips.
  • Nanodiamonds can be activated as photocatalysts with sunlight
    Science Highlight
    30.11.2022
    Nanodiamonds can be activated as photocatalysts with sunlight
    Nanodiamond materials have potential as low-cost photocatalysts. But until now, such carbon nanoparticles required high-energy UV light to become active. The DIACAT consortium has therefore produced and analysed variations of nanodiamond materials. The work shows: If the surface of the nanoparticles is occupied by sufficient hydrogen atoms, even the weaker energy of blue sunlight is sufficient for excitation. Future photocatalysts based on nanodiamonds might be able to convert CO2 or N2 into hydrocarbons or ammonia with sunlight.
  • Tomography shows high potential of copper sulphide solid-state batteries
    Science Highlight
    28.11.2022
    Tomography shows high potential of copper sulphide solid-state batteries
    Solid-state batteries enable even higher energy densities than lithium-ion batteries with high safety. A team led by Prof. Philipp Adelhelm and Dr. Ingo Manke succeeded in observing a solid-state battery during charging and discharging and creating high-resolution 3D images. This showed that cracking can be effectively reduced through higher pressure.