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Topological Solitons
in AntifeRroics

On the trail of novel spintronic and electronic devices using topology in antiferroic materials

Breakthrough Concept

Topological states are exotic phases of matter resistant to change. They give rise to phenomena such as crystals that insulate on the inside but conduct electricity on their surfaces (topological insulators) or chiral arrangements of some order parameters in real space. It is also possible to isolate individual topological entities and use them for specific tasks, especially for information technology purposes.

The EU-funded TSAR project will investigate topological phenomena in 'unconventional' topological materials where the staggered orders (electric and magnetic) result in a macroscopic cancellation of their built-in fields.

This will open new horizons in the manipulation of individual topological solitons at very fast speed.

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TSAR Consortium

Uniting different actors across Europe

TSAR Consortium

Uniting different actors across Europe

CEA Saclay

CEA is the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives, employing about 15000 people. It is a public body established in 1945 and active in three main fields: Energy, information and health technologies, defense and national security. In each of these fields, the CEA maintains a cross-disciplinary culture of engineers and researchers, building on the synergies between fundamental and technological research.

The group involved in the project is part of the CEA-DRF, the Fundamental Research Division located in Paris-Saclay. It is called the ‘Laboratoire Nano-magnétisme et Oxydes’ and it is involved in basic research in spintronics, nanomagnetism, oxides with widespread missions spanning all the way from new concepts to innovation through startup companies.

The specific expertise for this proposal are brought by researchers working on several fundamental research topics including (i) spin-to-charge interconversion by harnessing the spin orbit coupling interaction, (ii) antiferromagnetic spintronics and magnonics, including topological effects (iii) Non-linear optics and its interaction with ferroic orders, (iv) ultra-fast phenomena applied to multiferroics and spin currents. The main relevant contributions for TSAR include imaging (by second harmonic generation), dynamics and materials deposition, as well as coordination.

CNRS node

The CNRS node comprises researchers from four CNRS groups with a strong established collaboration. The first group, “Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales” (UMPhy), created in 1995, is a part of a joint laboratory between CNRS and the industrial company Thales and is located in Palaiseau, France. UMPhy is also associated with University Paris-Sud (now Paris-Saclay) since 2000. The creation of the joint laboratory followed a longstanding collaboration between Albert Fert’s group at University Paris-Sud Thomson-CSF (now Thales). This fruitful collaboration led to the discovery of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in 1988 whose major importance was recognized by the 2007 Physics Nobel prize. Beyond spintronics, UMPhy has an important research activity on functional oxides including ferroelectrics and multiferroics. It includes epitaxial thin film growth by pulsed laser deposition or sputtering, structural characterizations, electrical measurements, and advanced scanning probe microscopy investigations of polar and magnetic textures.

The second group, “Laboratoire Charles Coulomb“(CNRS-L2C) is a CNRS unit associated to Université de Montpellier. The laboratory gathers 226 researchers, engineers and technicians, with a very strong tradition of research in modern condensed and soft matter physics. CNRS-L2C participates in TSAR with the team of Vincent Jacques, who has pioneered applications of scanning-NV magnetometry in condensed matter physics. His team is hosting two fully operational NV-based scanning magnetometers, taking advantage of the full capabilities of this imaging technique to explore and harness open questions in modern condensed matter physics, including domains walls dynamics and exotic spin textures featuring periodic orders (spin cycloids, magnetic vortices or skyrmions) in insulating oxides or ultrathin multilayer stackings. The team currently extends the functionality of the NV-based scanning probes to electric sensing in order to image ferroelectric order at the nanoscale.

The third group is part of the “Centre for nanoscience and nanotechnology” (C2N), a joint research unit between CNRS and Universite Paris-Saclay, with 400 people including 120 researchers and 80 technical & administrative staff. Located at the heart of Campus Paris-Saclay, in the south of Paris, it is providing access to its characterization and materials growth platforms. The Oxide team from the Materials department brings its expertise on oxide growth, in particular of lead-based FE and AFE perovskites. The involved researchers have a recognized track record in the integration of functional oxides for electronic and photonic devices.

The fourth group led by Philippe Zeitoun is based at Ecole Polytechnique, in a joint CNRS/Ecole Polytechnique/ENSTA unit, the Laboratoire d’Optique Appliqué. It is now hosting the group of H. Merdji, previously at CEA. He has opened a new lab facility, NanoLight dedicated to HHG generated by mid-infrared light and application in condensed matter. Main applications of the lab are focused on attosecond science in 2D, 3D semicondutors, petahertz electronics, ultrafast nanoscale imaging and more recently on strong field quantum physics.


CentraleSupélec (CS) is an internationally-reputed Higher Education and Research Institution (, a founding member of the University Paris-Saclay. The CS group belongs to the Smart and Functional Materials team led by C. Paillard from the Structures, Properties and Modelling of Solids (SPMS) laboratory which is also associated to CNRS. It has a longstanding and internationally recognized experience on ferroelectric and related materials such as multiferroics, antiferroelectrics, dielectrics, quantum paraelectrics, piezoelectrics, relaxors, electro/elastocalorics or photoferroelectrics and their advanced characterizations using in situ (temperature, electric-field, atmosphere) X-ray diffraction, Raman and dielectric spectroscopy and electron microscopy that will be used for the experimental side of TSAR . On the theory front, the group has also a strong modelling expertise (DFT, effective Hamiltonian, first- and second-principles calculations, Monte Carlo, Molecular Dynamic, …) which will be used in TSAR especially through modified first-principles techniques allowing to take into account the effect of thermalized photo-induced carriers.


THALES is a world leader group for electronics and a key player in numerous markets such as aerospace, space, ground transportation, digital identity and security, physical and cyber security and defense. The acquisition of Gemalto by Thales for €4.8 billion creates a Group on a new scale and a global leader in digital identity and security employing 80,000 people in 68 different countries. The larger Thales will master all the technologies underpinning the critical decision chain for companies, organisations and governments, and will develop secure solutions to address the major challenges faced by our societies, such as unmanned air traffic management, data and network cybersecurity, airport security or financial transaction security. Research and development (R&D) is at the core of the new Group, with its 3,000 researchers and 28,000 engineers dedicated to R&D. Thales has been developing state-of-the-art technologies to meet the most demanding requirements of customers around the world for decades. Today the Group has become a giant laboratory inventing the world of tomorrow, with a portfolio of 20,500 patents, of which more than 400 new ones were registered in 2018. Website:

The THALES (TRT-fr) node comprises researchers from Thales Research & Technology France (TRT-fr), the main multidisciplinary research unit of THALES, located on the Campus of Polytechnique in Palaiseau. Through its internal activities and scientific links with industries and universities, either in France or internationally, TRT is participating in the preparation of THALES industrial future in strategic R&D fields. In addition to R&D activities, TRT also provides scientific and technical advice, expertise or services for the company. TRT-fr accounts for 3% of total R&D of the Group and employs 220 full-time staff and over 40 PhD students. The center has more than 13000 m2 of labs and 1700 m2 of clean rooms. TRT-fr has a strong record track in optics & optoelectronics, electronic components for microwave applications, III-V components, spin-based electronics, optical & biochemical detection devices, lasers, packaging, materials, software architecture and cognitive science. THALES (TRT-fr) will coordinate the WP4 on proof of concepts for antiferroic topological devices. Thales will contribute to the project by measuring, fabricating and modelling spin wave-based devices using the topology of antiferroic materials.

TSAR Consortium

Uniting different actors across Europe

University College London

UCL is among UK’s and world’s leading universities for teaching and research with 29 Nobel Prize laureates among its alumni. Located in the very centre of London, its campus hosts the London Centre for Nanotechnology, a highly multidisciplinary research centre housing state-of-the-art facilities and world-leading expertise in many areas of condensed matter and materials physics and nanotechnology.

The LCN (a joint venture between UCL, Imperial College London and King’s College London) occupies a purpose-built eight-storey facility in Gordon Street, Bloomsbury (opened in 2006) as well as extensive facilities within different departments at South Kensington and The Strand. The Centre’s experimental research is supported by leading edge modelling, visualisation and theory through its access to state-of-the-art cleanroom, characterisation, fabrication, manipulation and design laboratories.

The Centre has a unique operating model that accesses and focusses the combined skills of all three universities across several key departments: Chemistry, Physics, Materials, Medicine, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Biochemical and Biomedical Engineering and Earth Sciences. The LCN also has strong relationships with the broader nanotechnology and commercial communities and is involved in many major collaborations, nationally and internationally. As the world’s only such facility located in the heart of a metropolis, the Centre has superb access to corporate, investment and industrial partners. It is at the forefront of nanotechnology training and enjoys a strong media presence around educating the public and bringing transparency to this far-reaching and emerging science.

TSAR Consortium

Uniting different actors across Europe

University of Liège

The Université de Liège (ULIEGE) is one of the three main Universities of the French part of Belgium. It is a public institution created in 1817. It is made of 10 faculties, 45 teaching departments, 55 research units. It includes 3500 professors and researchers and 24.500 students (5.900 foreigners). The University qualifies for ECTS, DS and HR Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) labels and acknowledgement granted by the European Commission, which guarantees the quality of the training and administrative support given to exchange bachelors, master’s students, PhD-candidates and Post-doc researchers. ULiège is recognized by the Times Ranking as industry oriented: the institution plays an important role as a developer of activities with high added value and in providing dynamism to technological centres by linking business companies and public operators. It created a large number of spin-off companies emerging from its laboratories.

The ULIEGE node comprises researchers from the group of Theoretical Materials Physics (, which belongs to the Research Unit “CESAM” (Complex and Entangled Systems from Atoms to Materials, gathering together about 140 researchers from the Physics and Chemistry Departments of the University of Liège.  The group of Theoretical Materials Physics (10-15 researchers) was created in 1999 by Prof. Philippe Ghosez and is active in the atomic-scale modelling of the properties of materials using first-principles techniques based on density functional theory. The group, on the one hand, develops first-principles tools and, on the other hand, uses them to explore the materials properties at the atomic scale with the purposes of elucidating their microscopic origin and exploiting the acquired knowledge in order to realize the design of bulk compounds and artificial nanostructures with optimized properties. The activities of the group are centred on various phenomena including ferroelectricity, magnetism, multiferroism or phase transitions (structural, electronic, magnetic). They concern distinct classes of compounds but with a recurrent and specific interest for complex oxides and the exotic phenomena taking place at their interfaces in nanostructures. The group of Theoretical Materials Physics is used to collaborate closely with experimentalists, including some of the partners of TSAR.

TSAR Consortium

Uniting different actors across Europe

czech republic
Fyzikalni ustav AV CR

Fyzikální ústav AV ČR (FZÚ; or Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, is a public research institution specialising in fundamental and applied physics. With more than 700 scientists, one third of them international, it is the largest institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The institute is organised into six divisions according to subject: elementary particle physics, condensed matter physics, solid state physics, optics, plasma physics and laser physics. Today, several of its laboratories are nodes in programmes of European Community, and its research groups participate in large international collaborations (e.g. the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the Pierre Auger Observatory, the Telescope Array, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), and in the work of international research centers all over the word (CERN, Fermilab, Elletra Sincrotrone Trieste, European Spallation Source Lund, STFC, and many others). A number of major international conferences, workshops and schools organized and co-organized by the institute has already brought thousands of international experts to the Czech Republic. To name just a few recent ones: Towards CP Violation in Neutrino Physics, ICN+T, Frontiers of Quantum and Mesoscopic Thermodynamics, Ad-Hoc workshops on the crystallographic computing system Jana, Gravity@Prague 2018 Advanced School, International Workshop on Topological Structures in Ferroic Materials (TOPO 2019), International Conference of Ferromagnetic Shape Memory Alloys 2019.

The Department of Dielectrics at the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (FZU) focuses on investigations of structure-property relations in substances for which the frequency dependence of dielectric function can be probed by capacitance, waveguide or optical techniques. Typical materials of interest are high-permittivity insulators like liquid crystals, ferroelectrics, multiferroics, piezoelectrics, but also nanostructured semiconductors and low-loss materials. Experimental research in the Department of Dielectrics is mostly based on dielectric, infrared, time-domain THz, Raman and neutron spectroscopy, nonlinear optics and scanning probe microscopy measurements. In the TSAR project, the team will mostly contribute by time-domain THz spectroscopy, Raman polarimetry as well as by theoretical modeling of topological defects in antiferroelectric materials.

TSAR Consortium

Uniting different actors across Europe

Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

The Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) is a research centre dedicated to the study of physical and chemical properties of matter at the nanoscale. Its core activities include frontier basic and applied research in nanoscience and nanotechnology, technology transfer and public outreach. It is made up of 18 research groups and 3 specialist technical support units, hosting around 280 researchers, technicians and administration professionals from over 30 countries. Interdisciplinary activity between its researchers from diverse backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biology and engineering is strongly encouraged. ICN2 further seeks to train students and early-career researchers in nanotechnology, as well as create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between researchers, industry, policy makers and society.

The Oxide Nanophysics (ON) group of ICN2, set up and led by Prof. Gustau Catalan, studies how the properties of oxide materials change at the nanoscale. Properties may be emergent –i.e. more notable at the nanoscale than at the macroscale, such as flexoelectricity or domain walls- or deteriorating –i.e. properties that get worse at the nanoscale due to the presence of size effects, strain or dead layers. The ON group is perhaps best known for its flexoelectric research, having set up Europe’s first specialized laboratory of this topic with the help of an ERC grant. The group is also noted for its work on domain wall properties. More recently, the group has diverted into antiferroelectricity, having discovered the bulk photovoltaic effect in antiferroelectrics and performed the first measurement of flexoelectricity in these materials. Newer research is underway to elucidate the origin of their anomalous (negative) electrocaloric effect. We believe the latter to be relevant for the problem of negative capacitance, a central theme of this research proposal. Besides its broad expertise on the physics of oxides, with emphasis on domain walls and antiferrolectricity, the ICN2 node also brings highly skilled expertise on piezoresponse force microscopy (AFM lab led by Dr Neus Domingo), as well as facilities for the fabrication of thin films and characterization of their structural and functional properties.

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