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Materials Science Division

Magnetic Heterostructures and Interfaces

This topic explores unusual phenomena at interfaces between strongly correlated materials, such as complex oxides, with a focus on investigating modifications to the interfacial magnetic and/or charge ordering.

The functionality of artificially created heterostructures can be profoundly modified due to strain, surface and finite size effects, chemical intermixing as well as interactions or phase competition between competing properties in adjacent layers.

Our approach is to combine polarized neutron reflectometry, scattering at grazing incidence, neutron diffraction, X-ray magnetic circular dichroism techniques, and magneto-optical Kerr microscopy, to probe the magnetization and charge distribution within the individual layers, at the interfaces, and within individual magnetic domains to explore the consequences of the short-range reconstructions induced by phase competition on emergent behavior in heterostructures. Specific complex oxide heterostructures of current interest are artificial multiferroics, created through heterostructures of ferromagnets and ferroelectrics, and systems coupling ferromagnets to oxides with strong spin orbit coupling. Additionally, topological spin textures, such as magnetic skyrmions, stabilized by interfacial Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interactions in heterostructures, are investigated and their creation, stability, and dynamics driven by interfacial spin Hall torques are explored.