A closer look at magnetic materials

Scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick, UK, working with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, have used X-rays to investigate magnetic structures with unprecedented detail at the atomic scale. The technique is 100 times more sensitive than previously used methods, and has offered the researchers a glimpse of how changes in magnetic materials affect structure and properties. The team says their approach could have applications in improving data storage, developing medical sensors, and in security systems. Team leader Mike Gibbs adds, "This new technique uses X-rays to look at the movement of atoms with unprecedented resolution. Once we can look at atom positions in this way, we will get a much better idea about the atomic structures of a range of materials, meaning that we will be able refine our understanding of how structures and materials are made up."