Obtaining order at The “frustrated” landscape Of disordered magnetismPhys.org #06_2019November 8, 2019
Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, are using neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a novel technique to analyze materials exhibiting exotic types of magnetic behavior.
“In magnetic materials, many of the atoms have a magnetic moment, or a spin, that acts like a very small magnet.
That’s an example of an ordered magnetic structure , where a specific pattern is repeated over and over,” said Aarhus researcher Nikolaj Roth.
“But we’re more interested in disordered systems, or frustrated magnetism, where there is no long-range magnetic order.
There are correlations between the spins, if only for a short distance—known as short-range magnetic order.
If the dynamic properties of frustrated magnetism can be harnessed, these materials could be used to develop new electronics with tremendously advanced capabilities.
In the early experiments, the team successfully calculated the magnetic correlations in a bixbyite sample—a manganese-iron oxide material found in Utah.
The research team, (left) Kristoffer Holm, Nikolaj Roth, and Emil Klahn, stands next to the CORELLI neutron scattering instrument at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source.
But when they are combined, they become disordered and form a “spin glass” state below 30 Kelvin (about minus 400° Fahrenheit), where a complex pattern of spin alignments becomes fixed.
Using CORELLI, the team was able to quantify the South African bixbyite sample’s magnetic structure to make comparisons between it and the material’s atomic structure.
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