In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, support staff and technicians of our research groups and team - providing a glimpse in their typical day at work. In Episode 12 meet Job van Rijn, PhD student in the Spintronics of Functional Materials group of Prof. Tamalika Banerjee.
The immense increase in the demand of computational tasks in the modern world is a challenge which we need to tackle by new approaches in information technology. This challenge can be approached either by increasing the sustainable energy production or the reduction of energy required for computation, which means improving the efficiency of computational devices. The latter is what motivates me to work in the field of Spintronics, a frontrunner in this direction. Here we make use of the electron spin in nanoscale devices and combine material science with fundamental research on physical phenomena that aims to design or improve building blocks for computational elements.
I am a PhD researcher in the Spintronics of Functional Materials group under the supervision of Prof. Tamalika Banerjee. In our group we make use of complex oxide materials, which are known for their strongly correlated physical properties making the magnetic and electric phenomena highly tunable. This means that by tuning one knob (for instance strain), we observe drastic changes in preferred magnetization directions, phase change temperatures and even an emergence of an additional order parameter. Such materials with new multifunctional properties has much to offer for next generation computing devices. The intriguing combination of complexity and versatility implies that new measurement methods needed to be designed to probe such properties, which can be difficult to interpret, but it is this challenge that inspires me to think and propose new ways of explaining our results and to get to the bottom of it.
The work in this PhD project has many aspects as we first grow the materials, then characterize it using a plethora of techniques and finally by designing devices, we investigate the hypothesized properties. My PhD was a part of a BIS consortium at ZIAM and I had the opportunity and pleasure to work with various research groups at ZIAM that was very helpful in solving the puzzle. These efforts have led to new insights in these materials and some beautiful microscope images. As I am currently finishing the PhD, my task is now to structure the results and as we all know to write it down and I look back satisfied at the new contributions made to the field.
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