Leading academic granted esteemed fellowship

Dr Gino Hrkac who has become a University Research Fellow

Dr Gino Hrkac who has become a University Research Fellow

A talented academic at the University of Sheffield is set to lead the way in new research after being awarded a prestigious research fellowship title by the Royal Society - the UK's national academy of science.

Dr Gino Hrkac, from the Department of Engineering Materials, was selected to be one of only 38 new University Research Fellows (URFs) across the UK for 2009 as a result of his research into the new phenomena of functional nano-magnetism and spintronics.

The research project deals with the fundamental interaction of spin polarized current with magnetic thin film structures. A theory developed by Dr Hrkac explains how the spin of an electron can be transferred to a magnetic particle and how material properties and temperature influence this effect.

The extremely competitive University Research Fellowship scheme aims to provide outstanding scientists, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, with the opportunity to build an independent research career.

Dr Hrkac´s new title will mean he will be responsible for using his in-depth knowledge and incorporating it into design and research software which will help to establish a new research field in nano-magnetism: spin torque driven magneto electronics.

The research relates to portable wireless communication transceivers, such as personal communication devices (mobile phones or PDAs), satellite and radar communication, or automotive (`drive by wire´) electronics that are based on tuneable oscillators. The heart of all these oscillator systems is the frequency generator and the research that will be done in this fellowship proposes a magnetic spin torque driven oscillator. The magnetic torque provided by a DC current can excite high-frequency magnetic oscillations much like the flow of air through a flute excites an audible air vibration. The term "magnetic flute" was therefore coined to describe these devices.

Dr Hrkac´s work will include incorporating geometry, microstructure and fabrication defects in modelling the functional behaviour of spintronic systems, investigating the effect of thermal activation that trigger spin-current and developing and validating a simulation tool for quantitative predictions of spin current induced magnetisation processes in real devices.

The fundamental understanding of the above mentioned aspects will then help Dr Hrkac form the basis of a new, low cost logic and storage technology. Novel application areas for such hybrid electronic devices are smart tags that will be remotely programmable with electric or magnetic fields, programmable memory cards, race track memory storage solutions and tuneable frequency sources for remote communication and sensing devices (e.g. tuneable mobile phones).

Dr Hrkac, who has been working in the field of numerical functional materials and in the numerical treatment of high frequency magnetic nanooscillators for the last five years and has published 34 refereed journal papers, including recent articles in the journals Applied Physical Letters, Physical Review Letters and Journal of Physics D, has already developed a numerical model to investigate and predict the behaviour of magnetic spin valve systems.

Dr Gino Hrkac, from the Department of Engineering Materials at the University of Sheffield, said: "I want to thank the Royal Society for awarding me with this very prestigious University Research Fellowship.

"The Fellowship will help and provide the necessary freedom and means to pursue this new research field in the UK. I am planning to strengthen and expand my already established collaborations and this award will give me the opportunity to establish a new research area where computational physics will be developed to a point where it is more than only a proof of concept tool.

"It will be used to predict and investigate interaction of spin current and magnetic thin film structures and hopefully will give guidelines in the design of future magneto-spintronic devices."