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World's first success in analyzing 3D neutron polarization under high pressure

December 19, 2018

A joint research team consisting of NIMS, JAEA and the Institut Laue Langevin developed a high-pressure cell composed of completely nonmagnetic materials. The team then succeeded for the first time in the world in analyzing neutron polarization in three dimensions at an extremely high pressure of several gigapascals using the cell developed by the team. This technique is applicable to detailed analysis of electron spin arrangements. The team also discovered a material with potential as a next-generation PC memory material due to the multiferroic properties it exhibited under high pressure. The technique may be used to understand pressure-induced changes in electron spin arrangements in various materials and to develop new materials by controlling spins.

Electron spins fundamentally determine the magnetic properties of materials. Recent research focusing on controlling electron spins has led to the development of new functional materials, including multiferroic materials. The use of neutron diffraction techniques, which enable observation of spin arrangements in materials, are indispensable in these material development efforts. Three-dimensional neutron polarization analysis is particularly effective in determining precise spin arrangements while controlling three-dimensional neutron spin orientations. However, use of this technique requires a cell in which a sample material can be kept in a completely nonmagnetic state in order to preserve the degree of neutron spin polarization specific to the sample. Conventional high-pressure cells are unsuitable for use in this analysis because they are composed of magnetic materials that generate magnetic flux.

In this research, the NIMS-led team developed a completely nonmagnetic high-pressure cell by replacing conventional magnetic cell materials with nonmagnetic composite materials made of diamond particles. The team then confirmed that use of the newly developed cell does not reduce the degree of neutron spin polarization in a sample material. The team also discovered a material that is non-ferroelectric at normal atmospheric pressure in a nonmagnetic environment but becomes ferroelectric and multiferroic when subjected to several tens of thousands of atmospheres of pressure.

The technique developed in this research may be applied to the development not only of multiferroic materials but also of superconducting and other functional materials whose functionalities are closely related to spin arrangements.
This joint research project was carried out by Noriki Terada (Senior Researcher, Neutron Scattering Group, Research Center for Advanced Measurement and Characterization, NIMS), Toyotaka Osakabe (Leader of the Multiple-Degree-of-Freedom Correlation Research Group, Materials Sciences Center, Sector of Nuclear Science Research, JAEA) and the Institut Laue Langevin in France. Part of this project was supported by a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (grant number: 15H05433).

This research was published in the online British scientific journal Nature Communications on October 22, 2018.


(Regarding this research)
Noriki Terada
Senior Researcher,
Neutron Scattering Group,
Research Center for Advanced Measurement and Characterization,
National Institute for Materials Science
TEL: +81-29-860-4627

Toyotaka Osakabe
Group Leader,
The Multiple-Degree-of-Freedom Correlation Research Group,
Materials Sciences Center,
Sector of Nuclear Science Research,
Japan Atomic Energy Agency
TEL: +81-29-282-6094

(For general inquiries)
Public Relations Office
National Institute for Materials Sciences
Tel: +81-29-859-2026
Fax: +81-29-859-2017

Public Relations Department Media Relations Section
Japan Atomic Energy Agency
Tel: +81-3-3592-2346

National Institute for Materials Science, Japan

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