Chiral spin structures in antiferromagnet-ferromagnet bilayers

Type of project

Competition funded PhD projects


Contact Dr Thomas Moore to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Chiral twists in atomic magnetic structure are seen in ferromagnets at the interface with heavy metals such as Pt and Au, leading to topologically stable magnetic domains known as skyrmions.  Such chiral magnetic objects have potential applications in magnetic memory and sensor technology.  Mn-based antiferromagnets also contain heavy elements (e.g. Pt, Ir), and this project will investigate chiral magnetic structure at the interface between such antiferromagnets and a ferromagnetic layer.  The reason for using antiferromagnets is that they provide an exchange bias at the interface with a ferromagnet that might help to stabilise skyrmions, as well as a Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction that induces the chirality.  A current flowing through the antiferromagnet may also provide a spin torque to push the skyrmion through the ferromagnet, which would be of great fundamental and technological interest.

This is a joint project between the University of Leeds and the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.  Single crystal antiferromagnet-ferromagnet layers will be deposited and undergo structural and magnetic characterisation, both in-house and at large-scale synchrotron facilities.  We are looking for a motivated student with a background in condensed matter physics, materials science or similar, preferably with experience in magnetism or thin film properties.  The Condensed Matter group at the University of Leeds is one of the U.K.’s leading research groups in nanomagnetism and spintronics.  It possesses an extensive suite of facilities for materials growth, nanoscale fabrication and sample characterisation.  In the 2011 CHE & 2017 Shanghai rankings the physics department at the University of Mainz was selected for the excellence group in Europe and top 5 in Germany.  It is particularly strong in the area of condensed matter physics and houses the Graduate School of Excellence Materials Science in Mainz.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in a relevant subject.

Additional staff contact

Mathias Kläui (Mainz)

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is 'Chiral spin structures in antiferromagnet-ferromagnet bilayers' as well as Dr Thomas Moore as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates.  All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.