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  • 2017-10-05 10:05:16
  • Article ID: 682352

Spin-Current Generation Gets Mid-IR Boost with Plasmonic Metamaterial

Researchers in Japan are the first to add plasmonic metamaterials to spintronic devices to enhance spin-current generation from the heat produced in the mid-infrared regime.

  • Credit: Satoshi Ishii

    A rendering of the PMA spintronic device that shows photo-induced voltage generation by the photo-spin-voltaic (PSV) effect and the longitudinal spin Seebeck effect (LSSE).

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2017 -- Over the last few years, researchers have demonstrated that light can serve as a spin-current generator, creating currents of angular momentum, in optical nanostructures known as plasmonic absorbers, opening up a new branch of spintronics called opto-spintronics. 

Recently, researchers have begun to use metamaterials, engineered composites that have unique properties not found in nature, to enhance the absorption rates of plasmonic absorbers. These properties include the size, shape and arrangement of the nanoparticles that manipulate electromagnetic waves, absorbed as light, to achieve what is impossible with conventional materials. 

Researchers in Japan used a trilayered metamaterial to develop a wavelength-selective plasmonic metamaterial absorber (PMA) on top of a spintronic device to enhance the generation of spin currents from the heat produced in the mid-infrared regime. 

The research, which could be incorporated in a range of applications from thermophotovoltaics and ultrathin film solar cells to light and thermal detectors, is reported this week in APL Photonics, from AIP Publishing. 

“Our work is the first to combine mid-infrared plasmonic metamaterials with spintronic devices. This unique combination enables stronger light absorption and shows the excellent tenability of these metamaterials’ resonance wavelengths,” said Satoshi Ishii, a researcher at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and co-author of the paper. 

The researchers created a spintronic device made up of separate layers of platinum (Pt) and yttrium iron garnet (YIG). They then placed layers of alumina and aluminum on the Pt layer to create the PMA on top of the spintronic device. In this case, Pt is used as the bottommost layer in the PMA and also as the top layer of the spintronic device. 

The team in Japan showed that a spin current can be generated directly from the absorbed photons in the Pt film, a paramagnetic metal, that is placed over YIG, which is a magnetic insulator. Because light is confined in the subwavelength regime in the PMA, electromagnetic fields are strongly enhanced before the light is absorbed. After light is absorbed by the Pt film, it generates heat, which is also enhanced by the PMA.

In other words, when incident light hits the device in the mid-infrared range, the PMA exhibits a strong plasmonic resonance, which maximizes the absorption. A fraction of the absorbed light partially triggers the photo-spin-voltaic (PSV) effect in the Pt/YIG spintronic device, a relatively new method for directly generating spin currents via photons in a nonmagnetic metal layered with a magnetic insulator. The remaining light heats up the device to produce a thermal gradient across the magnetic material thickness, which in turn induces a thermally generated spin voltage in what is called the longitudinal spin Seebeck effect (LSSE). 

“In short, owing to the plasmonic metamaterial absorber,” said Ken-ichi Uchida, another NIMS researcher and co-author of the paper, “the device allows the electrical detection of a specific wavelength through the PSV effect and the LSSE.” 


The article, "Wavelength-selective spin-current generator using infrared plasmonic metamaterials,” is authored by Satoshi Ishii, Ken-ichi Uchida, Thang Duy Dao, Yoshiki Wada, Eiji Saitoh and Tadaaki Nagao. The article will appear in the journal APL Photonics Oct. 10, 2017 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4991438). After that date, it can be accessed at


APL Photonics is the dedicated home for open access multidisciplinary research from and for the photonics community. The journal publishes fundamental and applied results that significantly advance the knowledge in photonics across physics, chemistry, biology and materials science. See


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Four Argonne Researchers Appointed Fellows of Scientific Societies

A select group of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has been honored as fellows of the American Physical Society and the Electrochemical Society. Physicists Kawtar Hafidi and Michael Carpenter have been appointed as American Physical Society fellows and Materials Scientist Khalil Amine and Chemist Chris Johnson have been elected as Electrochemical Society fellows.

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Two ORNL-Led Research Teams Receive $10.5 Million to Advance Quantum Computing for Scientific Applications

DOE's Office of Science has awarded two research teams, each headed by a member of ORNL's Quantum Information Science Group, more than $10 million over 5 years to both assess the feasibility of quantum architectures in addressing big science problems and to develop algorithms capable of harnessing the massive power predicted of quantum computing systems. The two projects are intended to work in concert to ensure synergy across DOE's quantum computing research spectrum and maximize mutual benefits.

Department of Energy Awards Flow Into Argonne

DOE Secretary Rick Perry awarded Argonne with nearly $4.7 million in projects as part of the DOE's Office of Technology Transition's Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) in September.

NIH Awards $6.5 Million to Berkeley Lab for Augmenting Structural Biology Research Experience

The NIH has awarded $6.5 million to Berkeley Lab to integrate existing synchrotron structural biology resources to better serve researchers. The grant will establish a center based at the Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS) called ALS-ENABLE that will guide users through the most appropriate routes for answering their specific biological questions.

LIGO Announces Detection of Gravitational Waves From Colliding Neutron Stars

The U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and the Virgo detector in Italy announced on Oct. 16 that all three of their detectors had picked up the ripples, or gravitational waves, from two neutron stars that collided 130 million years ago. Among other discoveries, the detection allowed scientists to use gravitational waves to directly calculate the rate at which the universe is expanding.

WVU Energy Conference to Address State's Economic Opportunities

West Virginia University will look at the state's emerging energy economy through industry experts, public policy organizations, environmental groups and academic institutions at the sixth annual National Energy Conference Oct. 20.

Exploring the Exotic World of Quarks and Gluons at the Dawn of the Exascale

As nuclear physicists delve ever deeper into the heart of matter, they require the tools to reveal the next layer of nature's secrets. Nowhere is that more true than in computational nuclear physics. A new research effort led by theorists at DOE's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) is now preparing for the next big leap forward in their studies thanks to funding under the 2017 SciDAC Awards for Computational Nuclear Physics.

Matthew Latimer Receives 2017 Lytle Award

A staff member at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Acceleratory Laboratory, Matthew Latimer is in charge of seven spectroscopy beamlines at SSRL. He was recently selected for the 2017 Farrel W. Lytle Award, established by the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee. The award promotes accomplishments in synchrotron science and supports collaboration among visiting scientists and staff who conduct research at SSRL.

Jefferson Lab Completes 12 GeV Upgrade

Nuclear physicists are now poised to embark on a new journey of discovery into the fundamental building blocks of the nucleus of the atom. The completion of the 12 GeV Upgrade Project of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) heralds this new era to image nuclei at their deepest level.

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Hybrid Material Glows Like Jellyfish

Scientists combine biology, nanotechnology into composites that light up upon chemical stimulation.

Tiny Tornados at the Dawn of the Universe

Swirling soup of matter's fundamental building blocks spins ten billion trillion times faster than the most powerful tornado, setting new record for "vorticity."

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A new class of plant-specific genes required for flowering control in temperate grasses is found.

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The genetic material of Porphyra umbilicalis reveals the mechanisms by which it thrives in the stressful intertidal zone at the edge of the ocean.

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Simultaneous measurements of x-rays and gamma rays emitted in radioactive nuclear decays show that the vacancy left by an electron's departure, not the atomic structure, influences whether gamma rays are released.

OLYMPUS Experiment Sheds Light on Inner Workings of Protons

Seven-year study explains how packets of light are exchanged when protons meet electrons.


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