leem and peemMagnetite is the oldest magnetic material known to mankind. With applications in catalysis and magnetic storage of information, it has been proposed for use in spintronics. However, its surface magnetic properties are still under discussion. A basic property is the magnetic moment which on the surface may differ from its volumen value. However, the magnetic moment at surfaces and interfaces is crucial for its use in devices that manipulate the spin such as spin valves.

The first research work performed uniquely by means of the only low-energy electron and photoelectron microscope in Spain, located at the Alba synchrotron Alba, ​​has just been published. The study, a collaboration between researchers from the Instituto de Química Física "Rocasolano" and the Alba synchrotron, has used the high surface sensitivity and multi-technique capabilities of the microscope to characterize the magnetic moment at the magnetite surface, finding that it is crucially affected by the local atomic structure.

Laura Martín-García, Raquel Gargallo-Caballero, Matteo Monti, Michael Foerster, José F. Marco, Lucía Aballe, and Juan de la Figuera, "Spin and orbital magnetic moment of reconstructed √2x√2R45º magnetite(001)", Phys. Rev. B (Rapid Comm) 91 (2015) 020408(R).

CSIC link.