This summer Betsy worked at Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her role was cross functional between the Materials Innovation Exploration team and Product Development Engineering to help new product development teams understand the properties and potential applications of new materials. The primary focus was on understanding the technology behind chromic textiles, particularly photochromic, thermochromic, and electrochromic textiles. These textiles have the potential to store information, give user feedback and signal group functions. Additionally, Betsy worked on a project to establish updated sustainability standards for design and engineering in future product development.
Peter off to Zürich!
For the next month, Peter will be working in the Laboratory for Multifunctional Ferroic Materials with Dr. Morgan Trassin at ETH Zürich to characterize some of our magnetic and magnetoelectric thin films. The group at Zürich is an expert in a number of powerful techniques for exploring magnetic structure, such as Second Harmonic Generation which allows us to look directly at the antiferromagnetic order in crystalline samples. Good luck, and may the data be ever in your favor!
This trip is funded in part by the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) at the University of Michigan International Institute.
Nguyen Passes Candidacy Exam!
Congratulations to Nguyen, who passed her candidacy exam on August 15th.
Magnetoelectric materials have been of interest due to their potential for low-power spintronic devices via the electric field switching of magnetization. While there is a dearth of room temperature magnetoelectrics, one possible candidate is antiferromagnetic Cr2O3, which possesses a perpendicular surface magnetization and has strong exchange interaction with ferromagnetic layers across a common interface.
In this work, we study the growth conditions of epitaxial Cr2O3 thin film on a Pt electrode via Pulsed Laser Deposition. Perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) multilayers [Co/Pt]n are used to study the interface exchange and the manipulation of magnetization via magnetoelectric switching. The PMA and Cr2O3 layers will then be customized to reduce coercivity broadening and to enhance exchange bias for optimal magnetoelectric switching. Magneto-transport and magnetometry will be done to evaluate exchange interaction in the structure and its capability for exchange bias switching using electric field.
New publication! – “Strain-Mediated Magnetization Reversal Through Spin-Transfer Torque”
New publication!- N. Kani, J. T. Heron, A. Naeemi, IEEE Trans. Mag. Accepted (2017).
Recent experiments have shown the ability to introduce an anisotropy energy to the energy landscape of a thin-film nanomagnet through the use of mechanical strain. Assuming this strain-induced anisotropy is large enough, the low-energy state of the nanomagnet is altered and can be used to initialize the magnetization along a given axis. Utilizing this effect, we propose a more energy efficient method of nanomagnet reversal through spin-transfer torque (STT). This is accomplished by first initializing the magnetization to a high-energy state, and then applying a short current pulse to nudge the magnetization in the appropriate energy basin. Using extensive numerical simulations, we qualitatively analyze this type of reversal and find the optimal parameters for reliable functionality while in the presence of thermal noise. We demonstrate that despite negating the initial portion of nominal STT reversal, where the STT must fight against the damping torque of the initial energy-basin, the magnitude of spin current required for our proposed strain-mediated reversal is equivalent to the nominal case. However, the strain-meditated reversal is beneficial by minimizing the spin-current pulsewidth necessary for reliable operation allowing for large energy savings. Assuming the strain-anisotropy is significantly larger than the nanomagnet’s internal free-axis anisotropy, strain-mediated reversals offer a 10 energy reduction over nominal STT reversals.
The full manuscript is available from IEEE Transactions on Magnetics.
Prof. Heron Appointed as M-Write Fellow for Fall 2017
Assistant professor John Heron has been appointed as an M-Write fellow for Fall 2017. M-Write aims to transform the teaching and learning across the University of Michigan through increased student engagement and transformative learning. M-Write implements a writing-to-learn pedagogy with the incorporation of an automated peer review process. The writing-to-learn pedagogy is unique in that it seeks to supplement mathematical understanding of core concepts with written expression of understanding. Students are posed with a writing prompt designed to test the understanding of a core class principle and the ability to express it. The peer review process encompasses critique and revision steps which enable students to engage with one another for peer-to-peer learning. The ability to express technical concepts through writing and oral presentations have become critical skills for modern scientists and engineers. M-Write is used in material science and engineering courses in order to build some of these skills.
The first infusion of M-Write into the materials science and engineering curriculum came in the spring of 2016. Professor Rachel Goldman piloted the program in the introductory materials science course MATSCIE 250, where students wrote about several key concepts including the interpretation of phase diagrams, polymer recycling and its impact on mechanical properties, and corrosion as it relates to the recent Flint water crisis. With funding from the Center of Research on Teaching and Learning, Professor Heron along with collaborators Professors Goldman and Kioupakis, and Dr. Chambers, developed an “M-Write Electronic Materials sequence”, in which a “spiral” approach to the instruction of quantum mechanical concepts were fostered through writing-to-learn pedagogies. The course sequence included MATSCIE 242 (Physics of Materials), MATSCIE 400 (Electronic, Magnetic, and Optical Materials), and MATSCIE 500 (Materials Physics and Chemistry).
In the Fall 2017 semester, professor Heron will implement M-Write in the introductory materials science course MATSCIE 220. Throughout the semester, he and a graduate student instructor will become engaged with faculty and students across campus to participate in a semester long seminar that will focus on the development of writing prompts and methodologies for enhanced student involvement.
For further information about M-Write, go to http://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/m-write.html
 “Investigation of the influence of a writing-to-learn assignment on student understanding of polymer properties” S.Finkenstaedt-Quinn, A. Halim, T. Chambers, A. Moon, R.S. Goldman, A.R. Gere, and G. Shultz, The Journal of Chemical Education, accepted (2017).
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