Laboratoire Léon Brillouin

UMR12 CEA-CNRS, Bât. 563 CEA Saclay

91191 Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France


Let's scatter neutrons

Headlines 2017

Aug 24, 2017

Crystal-electric-field excitations and spin dynamics in Ce3Co4Sn13 semimetallic chiral-lattice phase
Kazuaki Iwasa, Yuka Otomo, Kazuya Suyama, Keisuke Tomiyasu, Seiko Ohira-Kawamura, Kenji Nakajima, and Jean-Michel Mignot

Inelastic neutron scattering experiments have been conducted to investigate the spin dynamics and crystal-electric-field level scheme of the Ce 4f electrons in Ce3Co4Sn13 . This compound exhibits a large specific heat at low temperatures and anomalous semimetallic transport in the chiral crystallographic phase below 160 K. Distinctly observed magnetic excitations at approximately 6 and 29 meV are asymmetric in spectral shape and are reproduced by two inequivalent crystal-electric-field splitting schemes, which are deduced from the chiral structure. We have also observed the spin dynamics reflecting antiferromagnetic correlations below 1 meV, which is enhanced with an upturn in the electrical resistivity below 15 K and which yields a low-energy density of state relevant to the large specific heat. We discuss the possibility of a three-dimensional Weyl semimetal state, considering the chiral-lattice symmetry, electronic hybridization, and magnetic correlation.

Oct 26, 2017

Raphael Dos Santos Morais, Olivier Delalande, Javier Pérez, Liza Mouret, Arnaud Bondon, Anne Martel, Marie-Sousai Appavou, Elisabeth Le Rumeur, Jean-François Hubert, and Sophie Combet

Obtaining structural information on integral or peripheral membrane proteins is currently arduous due to the difficulty of their solubilization, purification, and crystallization (for X-ray crystallography (XRC) application). To overcome this challenge, bicelles are known to be a versatile tool for high-resolution structure determination, especially when using solution and/or solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and, to a lesser extent, XRC. For proteins not compatible with these high-resolution methods, small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering (SAXS and SANS, respectively) are powerful alternatives to obtain structural information directly in solution. In particular, the SANS-based approach is a unique technique to obtain low-resolution structures of proteins in interactions with partners by contrast-matching the signal coming from the latter. In the present study, isotropic bicelles are used as a membrane mimic model for SANS-based structural studies of bound peripheral membrane proteins. We emphasize that the SANS signal coming from the deuterated isotropic bicelles can be contrast-matched in 100% D2O-based buffer, allowing us to separately and specifically focus on the signal coming from the protein in interaction with membrane lipids. We applied this method to the DYS-R11–15 protein, a fragment of the central domain of human dystrophin known to interact with lipids, and we were able to recover the signal from the protein alone. This approach gives rise to new perspectives to determine the solution structure of peripheral membrane proteins interacting with lipid membranes and might be extended to integral membrane proteins.

Sep 06, 2017

Stehane Longeville et Laura-Roxana Stingaciu

Translational diffusion of macromolecules in cell is generally assumed to be anomalous due high macromolecular crowding of the milieu. Red blood cells are a special case of cells filled quasi exclusively (95% of the dry weight of the cell) with an almost spherical protein: hemoglobin. Hemoglobin diffusion has since a long time been recognized as facilitating the rate of oxygen diffusion through a solution. We address in this paper the question on how hemoglobin diffusion in the red blood cells can help the oxygen capture at the cell level and hence to improve oxygen transport. We report a measurement by neutron spin echo spectroscopy of the diffusion of hemoglobin in solutions with increasing protein concentration. We show that hemoglobin diffusion in solution can be described as Brownian motion up to physiological concentration and that hemoglobin diffusion in the red blood cells and in solutions at similar concentration are the same. Finally, using a simple model and the concentration dependence of the diffusion of the protein reported here, we show that hemoglobin concentration observed in human red blood cells (≃≃330 g.L−1) corresponds to an optimum for oxygen transport for individuals under strong activity.

Nov 17, 2017

A. K. Nayak, V. Kumar, T. Ma, P. Werner, E. Pippel, R. Sahoo, F. Damay, U. K. Rößler, C. Felser and S. S. P. Parkin,  Nature 548, 561566.

Magnetic skyrmions are topologically stable, vortex-like objects surrounded by chiral boundaries that separate a region of reversed magnetization from the surrounding magnetized material. They are closely related to nanoscopic chiral magnetic domain walls, which could be used as memory and logic elements for conventional and neuromorphic computing applications that go beyond Moore’s law. Of particular interest is ‘racetrack memory’, which is composed of vertical magnetic nanowires, each accommodating of the order of 100 domain walls, and that shows promise as a solid state, non-volatile memory with exceptional capacity and performance. Its performance is derived from the very high speeds (up to one kilometre per second) at which chiral domain walls can be moved with nanosecond current pulses in synthetic antiferromagnet racetracks. Because skyrmions are essentially composed of a pair of chiral domain walls closed in on themselves, but are, in principle, more stable to perturbations than the component domain walls themselves, they are attractive for use in spintronic applications, notably racetrack memory. Stabilization of skyrmions has generally been achieved in systems with broken inversion symmetry, in which the asymmetric Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction modifies the uniform magnetic state to a swirling state. Depending on the crystal symmetry, two distinct types of skyrmions have been observed experimentally, namely, Bloch and Néel skyrmions. Here we present the experimental manifestation of another type of skyrmion—the magnetic antiskyrmion—in acentric tetragonal Heusler compounds with D2d crystal symmetry. Antiskyrmions are characterized by boundary walls that have alternating Bloch and Néel type as one traces around the boundary. A spiral magnetic ground-state, which propagates in the tetragonal basal plane, is transformed into an antiskyrmion lattice state under magnetic fields applied along the tetragonal axis over a wide range of temperatures. Direct imaging by Lorentz transmission electron microscopy shows field-stabilized antiskyrmion lattices and isolated antiskyrmions from 100 kelvin to well beyond room temperature, and zero-field metastable antiskyrmions at low temperatures. These results enlarge the family of magnetic skyrmions and pave the way to the engineering of complex bespoke designed skyrmionic structures.

Dec 21, 2017

D. Bounoua, R. Saint-Martin, S. Petit, P. Berthet, F. Damay, Y. Sidis, F. Bourdarot, and L. Pinsard-Gaudart, Phys. Rev. B 95, 224429

The low energy magnetic excitations spectra of the pristine and doped quasi-one-dimensional spin chains cuprates SrCuO2 have been investigated by inelastic neutron scattering. The momentum-integrated magnetic dynamical structure factor yields a constant integrated intensity with regard to energy in the pure compound, while it shows a strong decay, at low energies, in the compounds doped with nonmagnetic impurities, namely, SrCu0.99M0.01O2 (with M=Zn or Mg) and Sr0.99La0.01CuO2 (Cu+ carrying S=0 created within the chains). These results evidence the opening of a spin pseudogap in the two-spinon continuum of SrCuO2 upon doping, stemming from disruptions of the spin chains by quantum impurities.


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