ASU researchers bring a new twist to 2D magnets

September 3, 2021

The discovery of graphene — a single layer of graphite, also known as charcoal — revolutionized our understanding of low-dimensional materials and unraveled their potential for applications in quantum technologies.

We now have a library of 2D materials with outstanding capabilities. Thanks to their weak chemical bonding, it is also possible to combine different types of 2D materials — like 2D Lego bricks — to engineer unique properties. Left: Top view of two types of orientations of Cr-trihalide bilayer materials. Right: Moiré pattern emerges when two layers are twisted with respect to each other. This creates a moiré field and can lead to skyrmions. Figure adapted with permission from Nano Lett. 2021, 21, 15, 6633-6639. Copyright 2021 American Chemical Society Download Full Image

One of the new editions to the catalog of properties available in 2D materials is magnetism: Utilizing and manipulating magnetism is crucial for quantum applications.

A team of researchers from ASU shows in a recent manuscript published in Nano Letters, titled "Moiré Skyrmions and Chiral Magnetic Phases in Twisted CrX3 (X = I,Br, and Cl) Bilayers," that twisting two-dimensional magnets such as Cr-trihallides can lead to new magnetic phenomena such as skyrmions. Skyrmions are hedgehog-like arrays of magnetic moments with potential applications in memory devices.

“Twisting two-dimensional materials lead to large-scale structures called moiré patterns. Moiré patterns can significantly modify the properties of materials and give rise to new emergent phases,” said Antia Botana, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics. “Skyrmions have been sought after for a long time in 2D magnets. We are excited to show that Cr-based trihalides can be platform to realize them.”

“Employing complementary approaches is crucial to address complex phenomena in varying length scales,” said Onur Erten, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics. “It would not be possible to conduct this project without the combined expertise of both groups.”

Botana and Erten emphasize the key role of the graduate students in this project. This work is supported by National Science Foundation, Division of Materials Research Award No. DMR 1904716.

Kiersten Moss

Marketing Assistant, Department of Physics


ASU alum receives prestigious NIH early-career award

Chris Gisriel graduated from the School of Molecular Sciences with his PhD in 2017

September 3, 2021

Arizona State University alumnus Chris Gisriel, currently a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemistry at Yale University, was recently awarded a Pathway to Independence Award by the National Institutes of Health.

These awards are given to postdoctoral scientists with promising careers to support independent research while receiving mentoring. The mentoring phase lasts for one to two years, followed by up to three years of independent research in professorship, for a total of up to five years of support. The goal of these awards is to facilitate the transition of postdoctoral scientists into independent, tenure-track (or equivalent) faculty positions. Chris Gisriel Chris Gisriel began his undergraduate studies in 2009 in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2013, he continued his studies in the school, earning his PhD in 2017 under Professor Kevin Redding. Following this, Gisriel was a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Petra Fromme’s lab until 2019. Download Full Image

Gisriel began his undergraduate studies in 2009 in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2013, he continued his studies in the school, earning his PhD in 2017 under Professor Kevin Redding. Following this, Gisriel was a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Petra Fromme’s lab until 2019.

“Chris started out in our group as an undergrad who really wasn’t too sure about what he wanted to do with his life, but he fairly quickly matured into a serious researcher, " Redding said. "What I remember most strongly about Chris is his fearlessness — he took on some serious challenges, but never let the difficulties deter him. He just figured out what needed to be done, and then did whatever was necessary to solve the problem. One of the greatest joys of my career was watching him become the scientist he is today. This award is well deserved, and I have no doubt that he will continue to experience great success in his future career.”

Here, Gisriel reflects on this experience at ASU and the training he received in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Question: How have your experiences at ASU in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Biodesign Institute prepared you for future success?

Answer: The research faculty and culture at SMS and Biodesign shaped my personal identity as a researcher, which continues to aid in my endeavors today. Together, they have created an environment that leads my field of interest, photosynthesis research. My first glimpse into this community atmosphere was in SMS — at that time called the Department of Chemistry — as an undergraduate researcher in the Redding Lab. The lab member’s passion for research was magnetizing. As I became aware of the broader scope of my research and the people who contributed the most in my field, it became clear that many of the biggest contributors were my colleagues, advisers and mentors at ASU.

Q: What skills did you learn that you continue to utilize?

A: As a person whose career goals entail maintaining well-funded academic research, an important aspect of my scientific upbringing was becoming familiar with the paths that others had taken to achieve success. I found abundant experience with this at SMS and Biodesign. During my graduate experience, I was given the opportunity to participate in writing scientific manuscripts and grant applications, I learned what career strategies would enhance my visibility in a competitive field, and I was immersed in my field of research by attending conferences with my lab members. All of these have been instrumental in my success today.

Q: What do you find most memorable about your time at ASU?

A: What stands out to me is that the community aspect of the research at ASU is very important. More than other universities in my experience so far, my research ideas and goals were encouraged, even at the lowest levels, by giants in my field of study. As long as I approached my goals with enthusiasm and dedication, my success was thoughtfully cultivated by SMS and Biodesign faculty. Namely, Kevin Redding, Petra Fromme, Neal Woodbury, Tom Moore and Bob Blankenship — although Bob did not come back to ASU until the end of my time there — have shaped how I act as a scientist. It is because of their mentorship and guidance, along with the examples they set, that I enjoy success today. I appreciate their investment in me, and I am already in the process of investing in students around me.

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences