Guest Speaker Seminar Series

Post date: Aug 17, 2016 8:10:53 PM

Xavier Marti, Ph.D.

Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Owner and Chief Technical Officer at IGSresearch Ltd.

Seminar 1 - Thursday, August 25, 2016, 10:00am PDT

Electrical switching of an antiferromagnet


Louis Néel pointed out in his Nobel lecture that while abundant and interesting from theoretical viewpoint, antiferromagnets did not seem to have any applications. Indeed, the alternating directions of magnetic moments on individual atoms and the resulting zero net magnetization make antiferromagnets hard to control by tools common in ferromagnets. Strong coupling would be achieved if the externally generated field had a sign alternating on the scale of a lattice constant at which moments alternate in antiferromagnets. However, generating such a field has been regarded unfeasible, hindering the research and applications of these abundant magnetic materials. Theoreticians have recently predicted that relativistic quantum mechanics may offer staggered current induced fields with the sign alternating within the magnetic unit cell which can facilitate a reversible switching of an antiferromagnet by applying electrical currents with comparable efficiency to ferromagnets. Among suitable materials is a high Néel temperature antiferromagnet, tetragonal-phase CuMnAs, which we have recently synthesized in the form of single-crystal epilayers structurally compatible with common semiconductors. We demonstrate electrical writing and read-out, combined with the insensitivity to magnetic field perturbations, in a proof-of-concept antiferromagnetic memory device which operates USB-powered at room temperature. 

Seminar 2 - Friday, August 26, 2016, 10:00am PDT

Publishing invoices using spintronics

While I was a student and a post-doc, I got the feeling that spintronics was limited to data storage and random access memories. And so I was preparing my applications to start my senior academic career in 2013. I was aware that magnetic sensors had numerous applications but to some extend there was not enough “new research” to be done as to justify starting a new academic group. In this talk, I will walk through the business activities I took part in the past 3 years by which I fund some of my subsequent personal scientific research in spintronics using a couple of successful applications of magnetic sensors. 

A majority of scientists have a natural skill for managing large data sets, modelling and connecting the dots. In this talk, I will discuss the additional ingredients needed to turn this “mental integration ability and creativity” of scientists into invoices - the key paper. One often forgotten and misunderstood ingredient is the internet. It brings a tremendous additional value to any gadget simply because it is connected: One dollar becomes ten dollars, if the data flows properly into an iPad. 

On a more general frame, I will discuss how such small start-ups can be a feasible path to partially fund fundamental academic research. Scientific groups and its concomitant technology transfer departments operate nowadays in an imposed short-termism and, eventually, short-budgetism. For instance, It is very hard to achieve a significant success in revolutionizing the magnetic data storage market when, on one side, standard cycles are limited to 3~5 years and budgets to 1~5 million while the target is to attract the attention of 30 year old multinational companies. We will discuss several strategies that I have witnessed to tackle these challenges and I would like to brainstorm briefly on alternative paths and, specially, those ones which UCLA is currently following.