When it comes to magnetic materials, magnetic ordering — simply put, the characteristic by which spins within atoms order themselves to allow magnets to interact — is very important to understand. 

Recently, a team of researchers created a way to examine electronic spins within magnets at almost the atomic level, showing promising potential in small-level magnetism, like within data storage devices. 

The Study 

Researchers from The Ohio State University, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, and other institutions around the world developed a test to evaluate the spin order of van der Waals magnets. 

In order for magnetic material to work properly, this spin is important, as different layers must be able to have opposing spins so they developed a technique to test the spin arrangement using spectroscopy. 

“What we found is a way to measure magnetism at the two-dimensional level, and we found that one particular type of magnet retains its magnetism even at the atomic level,” said Rolando Valdes Aguilar, a senior author on the paper and assistant professor of physics at The Ohio State University.

“Since we’ve demonstrated that this technique can directly probe the arrangement of the spins, we’re hoping we can use this for other two-dimensional magnets,” Valdes Aguilar said. “This points to a way to make things like jump drives have smaller memories – we can theoretically use this to find a way to increase the memory density of a drive.”

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This is only the beginning as far as understanding magnets at the atomic level. This information can be the groundwork for future electronics design as it can lead to better ways to store large amounts of data on smaller devices. For updates on this study and others within magnetic discoveries, be sure to sign up for our newsletter here.