Department of Physics

Postgraduate research profiles


Thomas Saerbeck

Phone: (+61 2) 9717 7059


Start date

Aug 2008

Submission date

Aug 2012

Thomas Saerbeck


Magnetic Coupling Phenomena in Systems with Reduced Dimensionality studied with Polarized Neutron Reflectometry


During the last two decades magnetism of systems with low dimensionality has become a research area of great interest and with huge impacts in today's life. Not to a small part this interest is driven by the growing demand of faster, smaller and more energy efficient information processing in reliable systems. To overcome this demand, great efforts have been taken in creating and analysing spatial structures on the nanoscale. Though many new material and structural classes have already been realised and implemented in technological components (e.g. read heads and sensors), many of the basic physical concepts driving the often unique properties are not fully understood. This project will investigate magnetic phenomena apparent in systems with reduced dimensionality, such as thin films, multilayer or lateral structures on the sub-micrometer scale. The main technique to get access to the physical properties of such systems will be polarised neutron reflectivity (PNR), together with complementary magnetic and structural methods as magnetometry and X-Ray techniques. The neutron, due to its magnetic moment, is an excellent probe to study magnetism on the sub-micrometer scale and has shown its capability in a variety of systems and physical questions. The thesis is completed as a close collaboration between the University of Western Australia and the neutron research facility Bragg Institute at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Sydney. This collaboration ensures access to the experimental equipment and experience in polarised neutron scattering techniques available at the Bragg Institute.

Why my research is important

In the past years basic physical research celebrated great success in the field of information processing and storage and nanotechnology gained great influence on everybody’s life. The possibility of fabrication and investigation of material structures on the nanoscale led to a broad range of new systems with promising applications in technical realisations. Examples for such techniques are processors, read heads in hard disks and random access memories in computers. However, as fast as the technology, the demand for faster, smaller and more power efficient sensors and information processing devices has grown. Collaborating with highly accepted experts in the field of both magnetism and polarised neutron reflectivity, this project will not only contribute to the physical understanding of low dimensional systems, but also contribute to design solutions for new material prototypes applicable in the field of spin electronic (or spintronic) devices and information technology. 


  • Scholarship for Intl Research Fees (SIRF)
  • ANSTO Scholarship


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