PhD position is open entitle “Insights into the quantum spintronic engine” at IPCMS-DMONS, Strasbourg (France).

PhD position is open entitle “Insights into the quantum spintronic engine” at IPCMS-DMONS, Strasbourg (France).

Laboratory: Institut de Physique et Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg (IPCMS)
Address: IPCMS-DMONS, 23 rue du Loess BP 43, 67034 Strasbourg Cedex 2
Supervisor: Martin Bowen, Research Director / 03-88-10-70-92 /
Post-Masters PhD funding: ANR Spin Elec project already secured

Insights into the quantum spintronic engine
Join the budding revolution in quantum technologies, with an energy twist!
Contribute to technological efforts to mitigate the energy/climate crises!1

A number of initiatives aim to harvest energy from our environment. These energy sources can be naturally occurring (solar irradiation, wind, thermal gradients due to solar irradiation) or artificially occurring (thermal gradients due to proximity to a heat engine, wifi/GSM emissions, vibrations, etc…). A set of recent experiments have explored, using model optics systems at very low temperature, how thermal fluctuations can drive the operation of quantum heat and information engines2,3. To enable practical applications, our team is designing1,4–6 these engines using spintronics7, a green electronics that utilize the electron’s quantum spin property ( Spintronics already appears in hard disk drives and next-gen MRAM.

 In a spintronic quantum engine (panel a, red is spin ↓, blue is spin ↑), the energy-split spin states of paramagnetic (PM) centers are stochastically occupied by thermal fluctuations (purple arrow, kBT>). Charge transfer between these states and each fully spin-polarized electrode (‘spintronic selector’) thus takes place at different energy levels. This results in a spontaneous bias voltage/output electrical power, e.g. a current flow against the applied bias voltage (panel b, from Ref.4). By changing the relative orientation of the magnetic electrodes (in panel b with a magnetic field), the spin engine also acts as a switch of current flow, and of its direction. Underscoring this operation is the presence of several so-called quantum resources (squeezed bath, injection of quantum coherence, phase transition, quantum entanglement and quantum information readout6…) that are thought to confer available work to the engine to asymmetrically shuffle electrons (arrows) between the coupled spin qubits and the spintronic selectors4,6

Our design not only enables room-temperature operation, but also outclasses other forms of energy harvesting5. So far, we have experimentally tested this spin engine using C PM centers in MgO barrier5, and using Co PM centers in CoPc molecules4 (panel b). We propose as an experimental and possibly theoretical PhD project to test the presence and impact of several quantum resources within the engine. The bright candidate will integrate a sizeable research team that includes two PhD students already working on related aspects of the engine. PhD funding is already available for this topic. 

Starting References: 

1. Bowen, M. Atom-level electronic physicists are needed to develop practical engines with a quantum advantage. npj Quantum Information 9, 25 (2023). 

2. Klatzow, J. et al. Experimental Demonstration of Quantum Effects in the Operation of Microscopic Heat Engines. Phys. Rev. Lett. 122, 110601 (2019). 

3. Bresque, L. et al. Two-Qubit Engine Fueled by Entanglement and Local Measurements. PRL. 126, 120605 (2021). 

4. Chowrira, B., Kandpal, L. & et al. Quantum advantage in a molecular spintronic engine that harvests thermal fluctuation energy arXiv:2009.10413. 

5. Katcko, K. et al. Spin-driven electrical power generation at room temperature. Communications Physics 2, 116 (2019). CNRS News. Unistra News. 

6. Lamblin & Bowen, The Quantum Measurement Spintronic Engine: Using Entanglement to Harvest Vacuum Fluctuations. arXiv.2304.13474 (2023). 

7. Kent & Worledge, A new spin on magnetic memories. Nature Nanotech. 10, 187 (2015).