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Control and local measurement of the spin chemical potential in a magnetic insulator

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Science  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 195-198
DOI: 10.1126/science.aak9611

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Diamonds to the rescue

Keeping track of spin transport inside a spintronic device is challenging. Du et al. came up with a method involving diamond nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers, which can act like tiny, very sensitive magnetometers. The authors placed diamond nanobeams containing the NV centers in close proximity to the sample. This allowed them to measure the spin chemical potential of spin waves—so-called magnons—with nanometer resolution in the material yttrium iron garnet. Because NV centers are also sensitive to temperature, the method may be of use in spin caloritronics.

Science, this issue p. 195

Abstract

The spin chemical potential characterizes the tendency of spins to diffuse. Probing this quantity could provide insight into materials such as magnetic insulators and spin liquids and aid optimization of spintronic devices. Here we introduce single-spin magnetometry as a generic platform for nonperturbative, nanoscale characterization of spin chemical potentials. We experimentally realize this platform using diamond nitrogen-vacancy centers and use it to investigate magnons in a magnetic insulator, finding that the magnon chemical potential can be controlled by driving the system’s ferromagnetic resonance. We introduce a symmetry-based two-fluid theory describing the underlying magnon processes, measure the local thermomagnonic torque, and illustrate the detection sensitivity using electrically controlled spin injection. Our results pave the way for nanoscale control and imaging of spin transport in mesoscopic systems.

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