The Center for X-Ray Optics is a multi-disciplined research group within Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBNL) Materials Sciences Division (MSD). Notice to users.

High resolution imaging of nanoscale magnetic structures.

"To understand functionality of magnetic materials, one has to look at the dynamics of their nanoscale spin structures. Soft x-ray microscopy is unique as it can image at both high spatial and temporal resolution."

Peter Fischer,
Materials Sciences Division Deputy Director

Photo of Peter Fischer, CXRO Staff Scientisst

Nanoscale magnetics: developing ideas for revolutionary new technologies.

Discoveries in nanoscale magnetics, such as the Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) effect (Noble Prize in Physics 2007), have contributed to increase the storage density in computers from megabytes to terabytes per square inch during the last decade. The information stored on today’s computer hard drives relies on the orientation of the electronic spin on a length scale corresponding to about one hundred atoms. Fundamentally different ideas are needed to cope with the demand for higher storage density and increased operation speed. Spintronics (spin-electronics) has emerged as a leading candidate. The ultimate vision is to have electronics which only utilizes spin currents, which would tremendously reduce the energy need. Our research aims to unveil the basic physical principles.

Understanding and manipulating spin.

As part of LBNL's Material Science Division (MSD), CXRO is researching spin fundamentals and exploring novel mechanisms to control and manipulate spin. This work utilizes the 10-nm spatial resolution and 70-ps temporal resolution of XM-1 to image magnetic nanostructures, their elemental composition, and their fast spin dynamics.

Magnetic domain walls are potential building blocks in novel spintronics applications. Their dynamics (how they react to applied forces) determine how they can be used. The movie to the right shows the fast oscillations of a trapped domain wall on a 100 nm length and a sub-ns time scale.

Visit the Nanomagnetism homepage.

Visit for more information about CXRO's Nanomagnetism program.

CXRO's Nanomagnetism team.

Photo of Mi-Young Im

Mi-Young Im

Staff Scientist