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Room-temperature ferromagnetism in graphite driven by two-dimensional networks of point defects


Understanding the mechanism of ferromagnetism in carbon-based materials, which contain only s and p electrons in contrast to traditional ferromagnets based on 3d or 4f electrons, is challenging. Here, we demonstrate direct evidence for ferromagnetic order locally at defect structures in highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) with magnetic force microscopy and in bulk magnetization measurements at room temperature. Magnetic impurities have been excluded as the origin of the magnetic signal. The observed ferromagnetism has been attributed to originate from localized electron states at grain boundaries of HOPG, forming two-dimensional arrays of point defects. The theoretical value of the magnetic ordering temperature based on weak interlayer coupling and/or magnetic anisotropy is comparable to the experimental value. The unusual chemical environment of defects bonded in graphitic networks can reveal the role of the s and p electrons, creating new routes for spin transport in carbon-based materials.

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Figure 1: Correlation between topography, magnetic and electrostatic signals on a graphite surface.
Figure 2: Directional dependence of magnetization in HOPG.
Figure 3: Topography and differential conductance (dI/dV) spectra of grain boundaries in graphite.
Figure 4: Schematic models of two basics shapes of grain boundaries in graphite.


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We are very grateful to R. Lavrijsen for SQUID measurements, P. H. A. Mutsaers for PIXE analysis and H. H. Brongersma for LEIS measurements. We thank B. Koopmans and H. J. M. Swagten for fruitful discussions and comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by Nanoned.

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Authors and Affiliations



J.C. carried out the experiments and wrote the paper. J.C. and C.F.J.F. designed and coordinated the experiments. M.I.K carried out the theoretical modelling. All authors discussed the results, analysed the data and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to C. F. J. Flipse.

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Červenka, J., Katsnelson, M. & Flipse, C. Room-temperature ferromagnetism in graphite driven by two-dimensional networks of point defects. Nature Phys 5, 840–844 (2009).

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