Edurne Sagasta, winner of the GEFES 2019 Award for best experimental thesis
The researcher Edurne Sagasta has been awarded the prize for best experimental PhD thesis by the Condensed Matter Physics Division (GEFES) of the Spanish Royal Physics Society (RSEF). The thesis entitled Spin-to-charge current conversion in systems with spin-orbit coupling was worked on at CIC nanoGUNE.
This thesis explores the Hall spin effect, an effect that takes place in metals with spin-orbit coupling and allows charge currents to be converted into spin currents and vice versa. These conversions are of huge technological interest as they have the potential for use in the process to write magnetic memories (like MRAMs) and to read them (as in spin-based log circuits, a recent proposal by Intel). This research has revealed the mechanisms that contribute towards this effect in certain metals, such as platinum (Pt) or tantalum (Ta), which has made it possible to show how the efficiency of this conversion can be enhanced. Platinum (Pt) has also been combined with graphene to produce a device that can efficiently convert spin currents into charge ones.
The Hall spin effect is related to the anomalous Hall effect, known since the 19th century but little understood until recently. The second part of the thesis shows that this relationship in ferromagnetic materials is more complex than previously thought.
Edurne Sagasta studied physics at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country and after getting a Master’s degree in Nanoscience and Advanced Materials at the same university, she started her PhD thesis at nanoGUNE. ”After studying Physics at university, I wanted to do something that would be more practical. At the same time, I wanted to get involved in a project with more people and have the chance to visit different labs across the world; in short, to embark on a research project,” said the researcher. "Once I had finished my PhD, I decided to make the leap to the world of industry, and right now I am working for the company Mondragon Assembly,” she said.