A team of scientists has discovered magnetism in the 2-D world of monolayers for the first time. Monolayers are materials that are created by just one atomic layer. The findings suggest that magnetic characteristics can exist even in the realm of 2-D and open a world of probable applications.
“What we have discovered here is an isolated 2-D material with intrinsic magnetism, and the magnetism in the system is highly robust,” Professor Xiaodong Xu said, according to Livemint. “We envision that new information technologies may emerge based on these new 2-D magnets.”
The team led by the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists proved that the material chromium triiodide (CrI3) has magnetic properties in its monolayer form. A previous research had shown that the multilayered, bulk crystal, 3-D form of CrI3 is ferromagnetic. However, no 3-D magnetic substance had previously been able to retain its magnetic properties when stripped down to a single atomic sheet. Furthermore, monolayer materials can show unique characteristics not observed in their 3-D, multilayered forms.
The research team took the help of Scotch tape to strip off a monolayer of CrI3 from the larger, 3-D crystal form to determine the properties of CrI3 in its 2-D form. The aligned spins of electrons left a distinct sign when a beam of polarized light was reflected off the material’s surface in ferromagnetic materials. The research team found this signature in CrI3 with the help of a special type of microscopy. According to the researchers, this is the first definitive sign in an isolated monolayer with an intrinsic ferromagnetism.
According to Canada Journal, the scientists will need to carry out further studies to determine why CrI3 exhibited these remarkable layer-dependent magnetic stages. However, according to the team, these are just some of the really unique properties shown by combining monolayers. The scientists would next like to study the magnetic properties special to heterostructures and 2-D magnets that contain a CrI3 monolayer or bilayer.