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Research Highlight | Argonne National Laboratory

Buried but not forgotten: Tuning in to interfacial magnetism

In a recent study published by Applied Physics Letters, researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials developed a method to directly investigate regions of interfacial magnetism and to detect and measure the local magnetism and chemistry.

Scientific achievement

A scanning tunneling microscope is used for the first time to detect x-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) and near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) signals of buried magnetic interfaces, and shows the order of superlattice layers is critical for interfacial magnetism.

Significance and impact

The feasibility of these nascent characterization techniques to detect buried magnetic interfaces, potentially to the atomic scale, is demonstrated. 

Research details

  • La0.67Sr0.33MnO3 (LSMO) and LaNiO3 (LNO) samples were grown using ozone assisted molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) at the CNM.
  • Characterization was performed using synchrotron x-ray scanning tunneling microscopy (SX-STM), at 110 K substrate temperature without an applied magnetic field, at Sector 4-ID-C of the APS.


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Work was performed at the Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Advanced Photon Source. 

Fig. (a) SX-STM experimental setup (b) STM-XMCD and © STM-NEXAFS spectra of LNO/LSMO and LSMO/LNO interfaces (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://​sci​ence​.ener​gy​.gov/​b​e​s​/​s​u​f​/​u​s​e​r​-​f​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​/​n​a​n​o​s​c​a​l​e​-​s​c​i​e​n​c​e​-​r​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​-​c​e​n​ters/.

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