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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
‘Spinning Graphene’- a case of magnetic layers!

Can less be more? The answer is ‘yes!’ when we compress things and get a result that is beyond our expectations.

In our case, 2-Dimensional magnetic materials promise to surpass graphene in a number of ways. We have recently taken a leap towards understanding the dynamic relationship between electronic and structural properties of ‘magnetic graphene’ that can introduce magnetism to emerging graphene-based technology.

For the case of this material, FePS3, an electrical insulator, by applying pressure we were able squash the 2D layers together and switch it into a metal, this is often termed a Mott transition. Magnetism arising from arrangement of electronic spins is exploited in most memory devices and sensors and this is a key constituent for developing technologies like spintronics and spin-caloritronics.

These 2-D materials are characterised by weak mechanical forces between the crystal planes and high pressure (achieved by forcing together two opposed diamonds) hasve the effect of pressing these planes together; gradually and controllably pushing the system from two- to three-dimensionality and simultaneously, from insulator to metal. Our research points to an exciting direction for producing 2-dimensional materials with tunable and conjoined electrical, magnetic and electronic properties.

Physics Review Letters, "Pressure-Induced Electronic and Structural Phase Evolution in the van der Waals Compound FePS3" C. R. S. Haines, M. J. Coak, A. R. Wildes, G. I. Lampronti, C. Liu, P. Nahai-Williamson, H. Hamidov, D. Daisenberger, and S. S. Saxena.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 266801 – Published 28 December 2018