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Cornell University
LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics

Jie Shan and Kin Fai Mak become the first to control atomically thin magnets with an electric field

Cornell researchers have become the first to control atomically thin magnets with an electric field, a breakthrough that provides a blueprint for producing exceptionally powerful and efficient data storage in computer chips, among other applications.

The research is detailed in the paper, “Electric-field switching of two-dimensional van der Waals magnets,” published March 12 in Nature Materials by Jie Shan, professor of applied and engineering physics; Kin Fai Mak, assistant professor of physics; and postdoctoral scholar Shengwei Jiang.

In 1966, Cornell physicist David Mermin and his postdoc Herbert Wagner theorized that 2-D magnets could not exist if the spins of their electrons could point in any direction. It wasn’t until 2017 that some of the first 2-D materials with the proper alignment of spins were discovered, opening the door to an entirely new family of materials known as 2-D van der Waals magnets.

 

Shan and Mak, who specialize in researching atomically thin materials, jumped on the opportunity to research the new magnets and their unique characteristics.

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