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Magnetic Surprise Revealed in 'Magic-Angle' Graphene

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When layers of "magic-angle" graphene (bottom) come in contact with layers of certain transitions metals, it induces a phenomenon called spin-orbit coupling in the graphene layers. That phenomenon gives rise to surprising physics, including ferromagnetism

Credit: Li lab/Brown University

When two sheets of the carbon nanomaterial graphene are stacked together at a particular angle with respect to each other, it gives rise to some fascinating physics. For instance, when this so-called "magic-angle graphene" is cooled to near absolute zero, it suddenly becomes a superconductor, meaning it conducts electricity with zero resistance.

Now, a research team from Brown University has found a surprising new phenomenon that can arise in magic-angle graphene. In research published in the journal Science, the team showed that by inducing a phenomenon known as spin-orbit coupling, magic-angle graphene becomes a powerful ferromagnet.

"Magnetism and superconductivity are usually at opposite ends of the spectrum in condensed matter physics, and it's rare for them to appear in the same material platform," said Jia Li, an assistant professor of physics at Brown and senior author of the research. "Yet we've shown that we can create magnetism in a system that originally hosts superconductivity. This gives us a new way to study the interplay between superconductivity and magnetism, and provides exciting new possibilities for quantum science research."

From News from Brown
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