SPEAR’s Project Video

We’re very happy to present our project video! In it, one of our early-stage researchers, Mayank Sharma (CIC nanoGUNE), explains what SPEAR is all about and how it contributes to solving real-world issues. In a second part of the video you can meet our other researchers, working at research institutes and companies across Europe, and hear a bit about their the work they’re doing for the project.

Check it out below!

Our video was produced by MorganCrea, and it was a real treat to work with them. You can read more about the experience in Mayank’s blog post “Behind the Scenes: The making of our SPEAR outreach video“.

Last SPEAR ESR Training Event!

Just over to weeks till our fifth and final ESR Training event, taking place at Hamburg University from 26-28 February 2024.

As usual, our event will include training in scientific topics as well as transversal skills:

  • Focus Topic Session 5 – Skyrmions (FTS5), on Skyrmions, including scientific lectures on
    • Interface-DMI Skyrmions in magnetic multilayers (Vincent Cros, CNRS-Thales)
    • Skyrmions from a micromagnetic perspective (Nikolai Kiselev, FZ Jülich)
    • Skyrmions in model systems (Kirsten von Bergmann, Uni Hamburg)
    • Skyrmions from a DFT perspective (Stefan Heinze, Uni Kiel)
    • NV-center microscopy, a versatile tool to study magnetism (Aurore Finco, CNRS Montpellier)
    • Interplay of magnetism and superconductivity (Jens Wiebe, Uni Hamburg)
  • Special Training Session 5 (STS5) – Career development and job opportunities in academia and industry, delivered by Sofía Facal (Skills4Science, a partner company specializing in soft skills for scientists), including a session with project PIs Gabriel Puebla-Hellmann (QZabre, industry) and Fèlix Casanova (nanoGUNE, academia).

The three-day training will be followed by our 3rd Consortium Meeting from 28 February to 1 March.

See you all there!

Arturo’s work in ACS Nano!

Arturo Rodríguez Sota’s (ESR12, Hamburg University) first paper, on the behavior of manganese clusters and islands on Ir(111), has just been published in ACS Nano! Congratulations Arturo!! Congratulations to Vishesh as well, who also contributed to this work.

Check out Arturo’s paper in the links below and find a list of all of SPEAR’s publications here!

“Phase Coexistence of Mn Trimer Clusters and Antiferromagnetic Mn Islands on Ir(111)” 
Arturo Rodríguez-Sota, Vishesh Saxena, Jonas Spethmann, Roland Wiesendanger, Roberto Lo Conte, André Kubetzka, and Kirsten von Bergmann 
ACS Nano 2024 (Early Access), DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.3c11459  
Deposited in arXiv  
Open Access provided through the journal and arXiv 

New publication on skyrmions!

Our ESR10, Ismael Ribeiro (Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg), has published his second first-author paper, which investigates skyrmion motion in magnetic anisotropy gradients. Published in the journal Physical Review B, the paper was selected as “editor’s choice”! Congratulations Ismael!

The publication is available through Open Access in the links below:

“Skyrmion motion in magnetic anisotropy gradients: Acceleration caused by deformation” (Editor’s choice)
Ismael Ribeiro de Assis, Ingrid Mertig, Börge Göbel
Phys. Rev. B  108, 144438 (2023), DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.108.144438 
Deposited in arXiv

New SPEAR publication by Salvatore (ESR7)

We’re happy to announce our ESR Salvatore Teresi (ESR7) is first author of a paper published in Advanced Functional Materials this summer! Congrats Salvatore!

The paper is available in the links below:

“Spin-orbit readout using thin films of topological insulator Sb2Te3 deposited by industrial magnetron sputtering”. S. Teresi, N. Sebe, T. Frottier, J. Patterson, A. Kandazoglou, P. Noël, P. Sgarro, D. Térébénec, N. Bernier, F. Hippert, J.-P. Attané, L. Vila, P. Noé, M. Cosset-Chéneau.  
Adv. Funct. Mater. 2023, 2303878. DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202303878 

Deposited in arXiv. DOI: 10.48550/arXiv.2304.09228 

Open Access provided via the journal and self-archiving in arXiv 

Check out other publications in the Communication section of our website!

4th ESR Training coming up!

In just 10 days time, ESRs will once again come together for another SPEAR Training Event, taking place in Halle (Germany) this time. This is the 4th Training Event organized by the project and it will center on Topology on the one hand and Project Management on the other:

  • Special Training Session (STS4), delivered by Sofía Facal (Skills4Science, a partner company specializing in soft skills for scientists)
    Project management – from grant application to project closure
    • Project Management and Time Management
    • Project Management and team collaboration
    • Project management: Finding opportunities & grant wrtiting
  • Focus Topic Session (FTS2) on Topology in Condensed Matter including scientific lectures on
    • Spintronics – past, present and future (Stuart Parkin, MPI Halle)
    • Topological properties by ab initio design (Maia G. Vergniory, MPI CPS)
    • Introduction to topological properties in solids (Ingrid Mertig, MLU)
    • Topological properties in real space (Börge Göbel, MLU)
    • Topological magnons (Ingrid Mertig, MLU)
    • Ultrafast spin dynamics (Jürgen Henk, MLU)

See you all in Halle!

SPEAR Publications

It’s been a little over two years since the SPEAR project began and most of our ESRs have been working on their PhDs for over a year now. Their research projects have started generating results, which they have presented at numerous workshops and conferences, and even in some publications.

Check out our website’s Publications section for a list of open access papers authored or co-authored by our ESRs!

ESR12 makes headlines…!

An interview with Arturo Rodríguez (ESR12, UHAM) was recently published in the local newspaper of La Rioja, Arturo’s hometown. In the article, our ESR describes working with STM and life as a PhD student at University of Hamburg.

English translation below!

“I couldn’t resist writing my initials with twenty-nine atoms”

Arturo Rodríguez · In Hamburg, with the most powerful microscopes in the world


SANTO DOMINGO. The young man from Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Arturo Rodríguez Sota, is the beneficiary of an ITN Marie Curie scholarship in the European Union funded SPEAR (Spin-orbit materials, Emergent phenomena and related technologies training). He is studying for a PhD in Physics in Hamburg, for whose University he works.

What is your mission? My project is based on looking for skyrmions in the vicinity of superconductors, which are two very specific things that don’t get along very well. If I were to find them, it would be a great advance for the creation of quantum computers and other very promising technologies related to them, in addition to opening the door to exciting new physics, such as, perhaps, Majorana fermions. In a more general way, one could say that I work with scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) to study matter at the nanoscale. They are the most powerful microscopes in the world and allow us to observe individual atoms. They get their name from the principle on which they are based, a quantum effect called the Tunneling Effect, which allows electrons to overcome potential barriers as if they were ghosts walking through walls. The information obtained from this type of experiment enables the development of nanotechnology on which our phones and computers are based. Our group specializes in the study of the magnetic properties of these systems, for which we use a special microscope type (SP-STM), which, in addition to all of the above, it allows us to observe the magnetic moment or spin of the atoms.

What is it like working in your team? My group is very good, both scientifically and personally. I work surrounded by wonderful people like my supervisor, Dr. Kirsten von Bergmann, or those who have already become good friends as well as promising scientists Jonas Spethmann and Vishesh Saxena. Working with them is a combination of learning, enjoying and improving. We do science together and science is not knowing, to finally end up knowing. Working with them I have learned that the most beautiful thing someone can say is “I don’t know”, and then immediately search for the answer with all their heart. I’m happy.

What has surprised you the most to see or do on the other end of the microscope? Simply the fact of being able to see individual atoms already seems to me a feat worth mentioning. They only measure a fraction of a nanometer! One of the most beautiful things I have found were some atoms that naturally bunch together in groups of three due to an asymmetry. They look like little hearts! I usually say that I have discovered “the smallest hearts in the world”. Besides that, these microscopes not only allow you to see, but also to ‘touch’ and move individual atoms. As soon as I had the chance to work with them, I wasn’t able to resist writing my initials with only 29 atoms. It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Caption: Arturo, with the microscope he uses and his initials written with atoms.

3rd ESR Training Event next week!

SPEAR’s 3rd ESR Training event is coming right up! Next week ESRs will get together in Gothenburg (Sweden) to attend this training hosted by SPEAR beneficiary NanOsc. Our students will have the opportunity to attend scientific lectures by world-renowned experts in spintronics and receive training in soft skills from SPEAR partner Skills4Science.

The subject of our third Focus Topic Session is Spintronics for beyond-CMOS, whereas the Special Training Session (transversal skills) session deal with idea generation and entrepreneurship.

  • Special Training Session (STS3), delivered by Sofía Facal (Skills4Science, a partner company specializing in soft skills for scientists) Idea Generation and Entrepreneurship:
    • Creativity and business ideas in the scientific field
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Setting up a business model
  • Focus Topic Session (FTS2) on spin-orbit torque including scientific lectures on
    • Probabilistic spintronics for beyond CMOS (Shunsuke Fukami, Univ. Tokyo)
    • Spintronic-Domain-Wall-Synapse-Based and Spin-Oscillator-Based Neuromorphic Computing (Debanjan Bhowmik, IIT Bombay)
    • Reservoir Computing with Spin Ice and FMR Spectroscopy (Jack Carter-Gartside, ICL)
    • Boolean spintronic logic gates and circuit benchmarking (Florin Ciubotaru, IMEC)
    • Spin-Wave-Based Ising Machines (Artem Litvinenko, Univ. of Gothenburg)
    • RF Spintronic Networks for Neural Nets and Neuromorphic Computing (Alice Mizrahi, CNRS/THALES)

Looking forward to meeting everybody in Gothenburg!

Edit: Check out Paolo Sgarro’s (ESR8) blog post about our week in Sweden!

SPEAR’s 2nd Training Event coming up!

The project’s second ESR Training event will take place next week (3-5 October) in Leuven, Belgium. Hosted by beneficiary IMEC, the training, as usual, will include scientific and soft skills training:

The subject of our second Focus Topic Session is Spin-orbit Torque, whereas the transversal skills training session, will focus on communication.

  • Special Training Session (STS2), delivered by Sofía Facal (Skills4Science, a partner company specializing in soft skills for scientists) written and oral communication in science:
    • Speak about science: oral communication skills
    • ESRs will have a chance to practice in front of their peers and receive guidance from Sofia
  • Focus Topic Session (FTS2) on spin-orbit torque including scientific lectures on
    • Spin-orbit torque fundamentals (Paul Noël, Spintec-CEA)
    • Materials for spin-orbit torque and magnetic tunnel junctions (Giacomo Talmelli, IMEC)
    • Field-free SOT switches (Kaiming Cai, IMEC)
    • 300mm SOT-MRAM integration and challenges (Sebastien Couet, IMEC)
    • Memory pyramid and place of non-volatile memory in the roadmap (Mohit Gupta, IMEC)
    • Circuit design for SOT-RAM (Julien Louche, Antaios)

Looking forward to meeting everybody again! See you in Leuven!

Best Poster Award at JEMS2022

SPEAR ESR Vishesh Saxena (University of Hamburg) won Best Poster Award for his poster presentation entitled “Exploring the antiferromagnetic ground states and domain walls of Mn bi- and trilayers on Ir(111) by SP-STM” at the 2022 Joint European Magnetism Symposia (JEMS2022) last week. JEMS2022 took place in Warsaw, Poland, from 24-29 July.

Congratulations Vishesh!!

At Chateau Sassenage

This week SPEAR’s first ESR Training (organized by Spintec’s Laurent Vila) took place at Chateau Sassenage, just outside Grenoble, France.

It was a great way for ESRs to finally get to know each other in person and meet some of the other project PIs–Laurent Vila, Jean-Philippe Attané and Fèlix Casanova–and the network manager, Elizabeth Goiri.

On Monday and Tuesday ESRs enjoyed interactive sessions on ethics, integrity and gender awareness in research, led by Sofia Facal of SPEAR partner organization Skills4Science, specializing in soft skills training for researchers. The sessions touched on

  • Ethics, Integrity and scientific misconduct
  • Gender Balance, diversity awareness and bias
  • Ethical leadership and motivation

On Tuesday and Wednesday experts in spintronics gave lectures on topics related to spin-to-charge conversion:

  • Nanomagnetism (Jean-Philippe Attané, CEA)
  • Spintronic Devices (Bernard Dieny, CEA)
  • Magnetotransport (Claire Baraduc, CEA)
  • Spin current generation (Olivier Klein, CEA)
  • the spin-Hall effect (Fèlix Casanova, NGU)
  • the Rashba-Edelstein effect (Laurent Vila, CEA)

And during the whole week we were also able to enjoy the region’s gastronomy…

On Thursday ESRs traveled home and SPEAR’s Supervisory Board met online to discuss the project’s current status and the upcoming goals.

On Friday the Consortium met online with Caroline Peters, the REA officer overseeing SPEAR, to present the project and to receive feedback on its implementation to date.

It was a productive week! Thanks especially to the organizers at Spintec-CEA.

See you all next time, in Leuven!

1st ESR Training and Consortium Meeting

SPEAR’s first ESR Training and Consortium Meeting are coming up next week! ESRs will travel to Grenoble, France, for SPEAR’s first in-person event! Those of us who will be there are looking forward to meeting our ESRs in person (but will have to settle for meeting Maha Khademi, our ESR15, virtually, as she will unfortunately be unable to attend the training in person due to delays in the visa application process).

Training will take place in Chateau Sassenage. (Image from

We have an exciting program ready for our ESRs. Between Monday and Wednesday (21-23 March) they will attend

  • a Special Training Session (STS1), delivered by Sofía Facal (Skills4Science, a partner company specializing in soft skills for scientists), covering
    • Ethics, Integrity and scientific misconduct
    • Gender Balance, diversity awareness and bias
    • Ethical leadership and motivation
  • and a Focus Topic Session (FTS1) on Spin-to-charge Conversion including scientific lectures on
    • Nanomagnetism (Jean-Philippe Attané, CEA)
    • Spintronic Devices (Bernard Dieny, CEA)
    • Magnetotransport (Claire Baraduc, CEA)
    • Spin current generation (Olivier Klein, CEA)
    • the spin-Hall effect (Fèlix Casanova, NGU)
    • the Rashba-Edelstein effect (Laurent Vila, CEA)

On Thursday SPEAR’s Supervisory Board will meet virtually to discuss the progress of the action, and on Friday PIs and ESRs will meet with Caroline Peters (European Research Executive Agency), SPEAR’s Project Officer for the Mid-Term Check, which will take place online.


Eleven of our fifteen ERSs have now been recruited by SPEAR’s beneficiaries and have begun working on their research projects. (Our remaining four ESRs will join in the coming months!)

We will be able to get a glimpse of their experience as MSCA fellows through the newly launched ESR Blog, where SPEAR’s researchers will post periodically about their work at their host institution or their secondments, their training events or their new life in a new country.

We look forward to reading all about it! Head over to the ESR Blog in our website’s Communication section.

Last two ESRs selected!

Our ESR selection process has now come to an end! Our two remaining researchers, ESRs 13 and 14, have now been selected. Meet…

Zhewen Xu, from China. Zhewen obtained his bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Tongji University and recently completed his Master’s degree in Material Science at RWTH Aachen, Germany. He is set to join QZabre in Zurich (Switzerland) this October, where he will begin working on this research project (IRP13) is “Skyrmions: Imaging and Characterization at Ambient Conditions via Scanning NV Magnetometry” under the supervision of Dr Gabriel Puebla-Hellmann.

Kuldeep Ray, comes from India. After a Bachelor’s in Technology in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Kuldeep began his Erasmus Mundus Master in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at KU Leuven and TU Dresden, which he expects to complete in October. In November he will join ANTAIOS, where he will embark on his PhD thesis on IRP14, “Low current SOT-MRAM for integration in functional devices“, under the supervision of Dr. Marc Drouard.

Meet ESRs 9 and 10!

Our two latest recruits, Sergio Leiva and Ismael Ribeiro, are our first from across the Atlantic! They will join Prof. Ingrid Mertig’s team at Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg.

Sergio Leiva is from Chile. After a Bachelor’s in Physics, Sergio completed his Master’s thesis, Spin Dynamics mediated by non-equilibrium electrons, from Universidad de Chile. In October he will embark on his PhD thesis on IRP9, Search for efficient spin-to-charge conversion based on the Edelstein effect, under the supervision of Prof. Ingrid Mertig.

Ismael Ribeiro, from Brazil, has a B.Sc. Physics from Federal University of Goiás and a M.Sc. in Physics (From the Keldysh formalism to spin drift and diffusion equation) from the Federal University of Uberlândia. Like Sergio, he will join the SPEAR network in October. His chosen topic is IRP10, Optimization of the skyrmion motion for racetrack applications, which will be supervised by Prof. Ingrid Mertig.

Latest Recruits!

We can now welcome three new recruits to our Poject! Introducing…

Nazareno Sacchi, from Italy. Nazareno obtained his bachelor’s degree in Physical Engineering at Politecnico de Torino and is currently pursuing a triple Master’s degree in Nanotechnologies for ICT in institutions in Italy, France, Switzerland and Belgium. Upon completion of his MSc he will join IMEC (Belgium) as a predoctoral researcher under the supervision of Dr. Arindam Mallik. The title of his research project (IRP6) is “Design-Technology Co-optimization techniques for enablement of MRAM-based Machine Learning hardware”.

Paolo Sgarro, also from Italy, studied Physical Engineering at Politecnico de Torino. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree he embarked on a master’s degree in Physical Engineering at the same university. He is now completing an internship at Spintec (France), where he will stay on as ESR8 to work on “Electric-field control of the spin-orbit conversion in Rashba interfaces” under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Philippe Attané.

Maha Khademi is from Iran. She graduated from Iran University of Science and Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Physics, and is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Condensed Matter Physics at Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran). She will soon join the swedish company NanOsc (Sweden), where she will work as a predoctoral researcher under Prof. Johan Åkerman’s supervision on IRP15, “Voltage controlled operation and mutual synchronization of MTJ-based spin Hall nano-oscillator chains and arrays for neuromorphic computing”

Get to know our new ESRs on our Researchers page!

Welcome to SPEAR, Maha, Paolo and Nazareno!

Two New Recruits

Our two newest recruits are Salvatore Teresi (ESR7, Spintec-CEA) and Mayank Sharma (ESR2, nanoGUNE). Welcome to SPEAR!

Salvatore Teresi obtained his degree in Physical Engineering from the Polictecnico di Torino in Italy and recently completed his Master’s Degree in Nanotechnologies for ICT from the same university, which included an 11-month ERASMUS stay at Grenoble INP-Phelma (France). In September he will join Dr. Laurent Vila’s team at Spintec to work on IRP7, “Spin-charge conversion in topological insulators“.

Mayank Sharma is currently enrolled in the Master of Technology in Functional Materials and Nanotechnology at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. He was awarded a DAAD scholarship to carry out his master’s project at TU Munich and the Walther Meissner Institute in Garching (Germany), where he is now finishing his investgation on the spin Hall magnetoresistance in different cubic, magnetically ordered iron oxides. In September he will join Dr. Luis Hueso’s team at nanoGUNE to work on IRP2, “2D van der Waals magnetic heterostructures“.

Read more about Salvatore, Mayank and the rest of our recruited researchers here!

Three more ESRs selected!

Our recruitment process continues, and we can now introduce three more of SPEAR’s ESRs! Meet…

Vishesh Saxena, from India. Vishesh is currently carrying out his Master’s in Nanoscience at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (University of Groningen), investigating the opto-spintronics and magnonics of 2D materials. After his defense this summer, he will begin working on SPEAR’s IRP11, “Antiferromagnetic Skyrmions in ultrathin films” under the supervision of Dr. Kirsten von Bergmann (Uni Hamburg).

Arturo Rodríguez, from Spain. Arturo is carrying out his Master’s in Condensed Matter Physics and Biological Systems at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. Like Vishesh, he will graduate this summer and will begin working on SPEAR’s IRP12 “Skyrmions in proximity to a superconductor with large spin-orbit coupling” under the supervision of Dr. Kirsten von Bergmann (Uni Hamburg).

Niklas Kercher, from Germany. Niklas recently finished his Master’s in Materials Science at RWTH Aachen University (Germany), where he studied the the growth of indium antimonide nanowires and their transport porperties. He will soon join Prof. Gambardella’s research group at ETH Zürich to start workin on IRP4, “Investigation of current-induced magnetic and spin-orbit effects in 2D materials”.

Welcome to SPEAR, Vishesh, Arturo and Niklas!

Get to know Vishesh, Arturo, Niklas and our other ESRs on our Researchers page!

Meet our first three ESRs!

SPEAR’s recruitment process is underway and some of the project supervisors have already selected the of the early-stage researchers who will be working with them!

Marco Hoffman (Germany) obtained his Master’s degree in Physics from Heidelberg University last year. He has recently moved to Switzerland to join Prof. Pietro Gambardella’s research group at ETH Zürich and begin his work on IRP3, “Fast switching dynamics of three terminal magnetic tunnel junctions“.

Kaiquan Fan (China) is currently finishing up his Master’s degree in Material Science and Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen). He will join IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) to work on IRP5, “Exploration of new materials for reducing writing current of SOT-MRAM cells“, under the supervision of Dr. Sebastien Couet.

Eoin Dolan (Ireland) will defend his Joint European Master’s in Surface, Electro, Radiation and Photo-Chemistry at the end of August and then join nanoGUNE’s Nanodevices group (San Sebastian, Spain), where he will work on IRP1, “Graphene-based heterostructures for spin-orbit logic devices“, under the supervision of Dr. Fèlix Casanova.

Welcome to SPEAR, Marco, Kaiquan and Eoin!!

Read more about our new recruits on out website’s new Researchers page!

SPEAR is underway!

The SPEAR Project is underway!

Today beneficiaries and partner organisations met over Zoom for the project’s kick-off meeting.

After the participants introduced themselves and presented their role in SPEAR, the different work packages were reviewed, with a special emphasis on organisational work-packages and the obligations and responsibilities of the participants.

We are excited to begin working on SPEAR, and our first goal is to recruit the 15 young researchers that will carry out their PhDs with us in the field of Spin-Orbitronics.

Check out our open positions here!

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