spin-electronics measurements to topological insulators promises to be very fruitful as well. The integration of experiments with theory is also noteworthy.
Three project leaders perform research that addresses nanomagnetism, including the following areas: (1) imaging using scanning electron microscopy with polarization analysis (SEMPA), (2) techniques to measure and quantify spin-wave modes, (3) the development of novel electron beams that carry orbital angular momentum (OAM), (4) the development of magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM), and (5) theory and modeling. The EPG has a strong presence within the nanomagnetics community, and its research, both experimental and theoretical, is highly regarded. The project leaders are continuing to develop new measurement tools that enhance their existing capabilities—for example, extension of SEMPA to analyze ultrathin magnetic multilayers by means of profiling using very-low-energy ion beams. The initiation of a program on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) beams with OAM opens up possible new applications and is to be encouraged.
The experimental effort in the area of laser manipulation of atoms is superb. It is leading to an entirely new method of producing focused-ion beams through laser trapping of metallic atoms using a magneto-optical trap ion source (MOTIS). This method may enable focused-ion-beam (FIB) systems with a broader range of choices of source ion than is available in commercial systems. The ability to choose the source ion enables the optimization of the ion for the appropriate application: for example, for imaging, etching, pattern definition, beam chemistry, or materials analysis. The MOTIS also improves the energy resolution of the FIB instrument. The EPG interacts with industrial partners such as the FEI Company, a leading manufacturer of commercial FIB systems, through CRADAs and has patented aspects of the method.
Alignment with Mission
Research and development work in the EPG ranges from very fundamental work to applications with foreseeable technological or commercial applications. The EPG is involved in a wide range of interactions with collaborators from industry, academia, and national laboratories. Most of its collaborators are U.S.-based, although it is engaged in some international academic collaborations. NIST is a contributing member of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC). This involvement has led to 12 academic collaborations. Collaborators are helping the EPG to develop new measurement tools and also are acting as “users” of existing tools. The group’s industrial collaborators are somewhat fewer, although a strong interaction exists between the ion-beam development project and FEI Company. The new technique developed for measuring spin polarization by means of analysis of Doppler-shifted spin waves involves collaboration with Hitachi Global Storage Technology. Project leaders in the nanomagnetics area commented to the panel that collaborations with the magnetic-storage industry are becoming harder to set up. The difficulty is in part a result of the decline of that industry in general. The theory and modeling part of the program has strong interactions with academic collaborators and with other members of the EPG. These interactions are very appropriate and critical to the success of the EPG. In summary, all efforts of the EPG seem highly aligned with the overall mission of NIST in terms of measurement and the development of new methods.