Advanced Photon Source

An Office of Science National User Facility

Nanomagnetism and the grand challenges


Schematic depiction of the magnetic clusters in Mn12-acetate. (From G. Srajer et al., J. Magn. Mag. Mat. 307, 1 [2006]. Courtesy of M. Sarachik.)The present and future for the field of nanomagnetism, and its relationship to hard x-rays, is the subject of a topical review based on a study that explores future scientific directions for the Advanced Photon Source (APS).

The paper, “Advances in nanomagnetism via X-ray techniques” by G. Srajer et al., highlights presentations from the workshop ‘‘Nanomagnetism Using X-ray Techniques,” one of a series sponsored by the APS and held at Argonne National Laboratory in 2004.

These workshops were organized by Gopal Shenoy (APS) and Sunil Sinha (University of California, San Diego) as part of a strategic planning exercise whose brief was to evaluate frontier research opportunities in a variety of disciplines, find a fit with APS capabilities, and highlight technological enhancements needed to enable these exciting new avenues of synchrotron x-ray research. According to Shenoy, the material in this paper represents a comprehensive review of major challenges in three broadly defined areas of nanomagnetism: confined systems, clusters, and complex oxides, and will be a useful reference for scientists interested in this fascinating area.

In the brave new world of nanoscience, nanomagnetism (the science and technology underlying the magnetic behavior of nanostructured, i.e., 1–100 nm, systems), is at or near the top of everyone’s list of Very Important Processes. This prominence is due to the wide range of potential applications, from ultra-high-density electronic data-storage media, to high-strength permanent magnets, to new magnetic superconductors (to name but a few) and on to ideas yet to come. As is the case for so much of materials science, hard x-ray beams from third-generation light sources such as the APS are ideally suited to investigate nanomagnetism and help meet the “grand challenges in nanomagnetisnm,” as spelled out in the paper.

The authors set the stage for their thesis by posing the question, “Why create, explore and understand nanomagnetic emergent matter?” While never losing sight of basic research’s inestimable goal of broadening our understanding of the world around us, the report notes that this understanding “will enable the community to address the strategic needs of our society at large.”

The report “identifies major research challenges that lie ahead in three broadly defined subfields of nanomagnetism: confined systems, clusters and complex oxides.” These “grand challenges,” as listed in the report, include the creation, exploration, and understanding of new materials that show emergent (unexpected) behavior, and the exploration of magnetic properties in nanomagnetic materials.

Next, the workshop participants detail current capabilities at the APS, and finally, they make concrete recommendations for nanomagnetism-science-friendly technological improvements at synchrotron x-ray facilities.

Contact: G. Srajer (

See: G. Srajer, L.H. Lewis, S.D. Bader, A.J. Epstein, C.S. Fadley, E.E. Fullerton, A. Hoffmann, J.B. Kortright, Kannan M. Krishnan, S.A. Majetich, T.S. Rahman,

C.A. Ross, M.B. Salamon, I.K. Schuller, T.C. Schulthess, and J.Z. Sun, “Advances in nanomagnetism via X-ray techniques,” J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 307, 1 (2006).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jmmm.2006.06.033

Work was supported by the US DOE-BES at ANL under Contract no.W-31-109-ENG-38, at BNL under Contract no. DE-AC02-98CH10886, at LBNL under Contract no. DE-AC03-76SF00098, at ORNL under Contract no. DE-AC05-00OR22725, at UIUC under Award no. DEFG02-91ER45439 through the Frederick Seitz MRL and the CMM, and at UCSD under Contract no. FG03-87ER-45332. Work at UW was supported by NSF grants DMR-0203069 and DMR-0501421 and the Campbell Endowment. Work at CMU was supported by NSF grants CTS-0227645 and ECS-0304453. Work at KSU was partially supported from a grant from DOE (DE-FG02-03ER46058) and another from NSF (NER0304665). Work at MIT was supported through NSF MRSEC DMR 0213282 and ECS 0322027.Work at OSU was supported by DOE Grant Nos. DE-FG02- 86ER45271 and DE-FG02-01ER45931.

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