Pyrite structure
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low Energy Electronics (FLEET).

An ARC-supported Monash University study revealing new spin textures in pyrite could unlock these materials’ potential in future 'spintronics' devices. Such devices specifically exploit an electron's spin properties in addition to its charge, and are important for a relatively new class of materials called topological insulators, one of the core research themes at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low Energy Electronics.

Topological materials have exciting potential for next-generation, ultra-low energy electronics, including thermoelectric and spintronic devices, but a restriction on the use of such materials in spintronics has been that all topological materials studied thus far have spin states that lie parallel to the plane of the material, while many/most/all practical spintronic devices would require out-of-plane spin states.

Generating and manipulating out-of-plane spins without applying an external electric or magnetic field has been a key challenge in spintronics.

The new study demonstrates for the first time that pyrite-type crystals can host unconventional energy—and direction-dependent spin textures on the surface, with both in-plane and out-of-plane spin components, in sharp contrast to spin textures in conventional topological materials. 

Photo credit: 

The crystal structure of Pyrite OsSe2/OsTe2. Credit: FLEET.