Measuring the elusive interaction

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 661-662
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6300.661-d

When two spins interact, the part of the interaction that changes sign when the spins are exchanged is called the Dzyaloshinsky-Moriya (DM) interaction. The DM interaction favors nonparallel spins and can play an important role in the formation of skyrmions (miniature whirlpools of spins) and in the magnetoelectric effect in multiferroics. However, measuring both the size and the direction of this interaction is tricky. Laplane et al. conceived a general method that they demonstrated on a pair of Nd3+ ions embedded as dopants in a YVO4 crystal. Working at low temperatures where the Nd3+ ions behaved as effective ½ spins, they extracted the details of the interaction by using the electron spin resonance technique combined with optical detection.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 037203 (2016).

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