Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Layer-resolved magnetic proximity effect in van der Waals heterostructures


Magnetic proximity effects are integral to manipulating spintronic1,2, superconducting3,4, excitonic5 and topological phenomena6,7,8 in heterostructures. These effects are highly sensitive to the interfacial electronic properties, such as electron wavefunction overlap and band alignment. The recent emergence of magnetic two-dimensional materials opens new possibilities for exploring proximity effects in van der Waals heterostructures9,10,11,12. In particular, atomically thin CrI3 exhibits layered antiferromagnetism, in which adjacent ferromagnetic monolayers are antiferromagnetically coupled9. Here we report a layer-resolved magnetic proximity effect in heterostructures formed by monolayer WSe2 and bi/trilayer CrI3. By controlling the individual layer magnetization in CrI3 with a magnetic field, we show that the spin-dependent charge transfer between WSe2 and CrI3 is dominated by the interfacial CrI3 layer, while the proximity exchange field is highly sensitive to the layered magnetic structure as a whole. In combination with reflective magnetic circular dichroism measurements, these properties allow the use of monolayer WSe2 as a spatially sensitive magnetic sensor to map out layered antiferromagnetic domain structures at zero magnetic field as well as antiferromagnetic/ferromagnetic domains at finite magnetic fields. Our work reveals a way to control proximity effects and probe interfacial magnetic order via van der Waals engineering13.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Proximity control of valley dynamics in monolayer WSe2 interfacing with trilayer CrI3.
Fig. 2: Proximity effect in a monolayer WSe2/bilayer CrI3 heterostructure.
Fig. 3: Imaging layered AFM domains in bilayer CrI3 by monolayer WSe2.
Fig. 4: Imaging layered AFM/FM domains in bilayer CrI3 by monolayer WSe2.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  1. Vobornik, I. et al. Magnetic proximity effect as a pathway to spintronic applications of topological insulators. Nano Lett. 11, 4079–4082 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Korenev, V. L. et al. Dynamic spin polarization by orientation-dependent separation in a ferromagnet–semiconductor hybrid. Nat. Commun. 3, 959 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Buzdin, A. I. Proximity effects in superconductor-ferromagnet heterostructures. Rev. Mod. Phys. 77, 935 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Stahn, J. et al. Magnetic proximity effect in perovskite superconductor/ferromagnet multilayers. Phys. Rev. B 71, 140509 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Scharf, B., Xu, G., Matos-Abiague, A. & Žutić, I. Magnetic proximity effects in transition-metal dichalcogenides: converting excitons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 127403 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Koren, G. Magnetic proximity effect of a topological insulator and a ferromagnet in thin-film bilayers of Bi0.5Sb1.5Te3 and SrRuO3. Phys. Rev. B 97, 054405 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Eremeev, S. V., Men’shov, V. N., Tugushev, V. V., Echenique, P. M. & Chulkov, E. V. Magnetic proximity effect at the three-dimensional topological insulator/magnetic insulator interface. Phys. Rev. B 88, 144430 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Lee, C., Katmis, F., Jarillo-Herrero, P., Moodera, J. S. & Gedik, N. Direct measurement of proximity-induced magnetism at the interface between a topological insulator and a ferromagnet. Nat. Commun. 7, 12014 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Huang, B. et al. Layer-dependent ferromagnetism in a van der Waals crystal down to the monolayer limit. Nature 546, 270–273 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Burch, K. S., Mandrus, D. & Park, J.-G. Magnetism in two-dimensional van der Waals materials. Nature 563, 47–52 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Gong, C. & Zhang, X. Two-dimensional magnetic crystals and emergent heterostructure devices. Science 359, 1123–1127 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gibertini, M., Koperski, M., Morpurgo, A. F. & Novoselov, K. S. Magnetic 2D materials and heterostructures. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 408–419 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Zollner, K., Faria, PauloE. & Fabian, J. Proximity exchange effects in MoSe2 and WSe2 heterostructures with CrI3: twist angle, layer, and gate dependence. Phys. Rev. B 100, 085128 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Wei, P. et al. Strong interfacial exchange field in the graphene/EuS heterostructure. Nat. Mater. 15, 711–716 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Zhao, C. et al. Enhanced valley splitting in monolayer WSe2 due to magnetic exchange field. Nat. Nanotechnol. 12, 757–762 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Žutić, I., Matos-Abiague, A., Scharf, B., Dery, H. & Belashchenko, K. Proximitized materials. Mater. Today 22, 85–107 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Zhong, D. et al. Van der Waals engineering of ferromagnetic semiconductor heterostructures for spin and valleytronics. Sci. Adv. 3, e1603113 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Seyler, K. L. et al. Valley manipulation by optically tuning the magnetic proximity effect in WSe2/CrI3 Heterostructures. Nano Lett. 18, 3823–3828 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Jones, A. M. et al. Optical generation of excitonic valley coherence in monolayer WSe2. Nat. Nanotechnol. 8, 634–638 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Song, T. et al. Giant tunneling magnetoresistance in spin-filter van der Waals heterostructures. Science 360, 1214–1218 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank A. Lonescu and I. Wilson for assistance in sample fabrication. This work was mainly supported by the Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division (grant no. DE-SC0018171). The understanding of the magnetic proximity effect was partially supported by the Department of Energy Pro-QM EFRC (grant no. DE-SC0019443). Work at HKU was supported by the RGC of HKSAR (grant no. 17303518P). Work at ORNL (M.A.M.) was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division. K.W. and T.T. acknowledge support from the Elemental Strategy Initiative conducted by MEXT, Japan and CREST (grant no. JPMJCR15F3), JST. K.-M.C.F. and X.L. acknowledge support by a University of Washington Innovation Award. X.X. acknowledges support from the State of Washington funded Clean Energy Institute and from a Boeing Distinguished Professorship in Physics.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



X.X., W.Y. and D.X. conceived the project. D.Z. fabricated the sample. D.Z., K.L.S. and X.L. performed the experiment assisted by N.P.W. X.X. and K.-M.C.F. supervised the experiment. M.A.M. synthesized and characterized the bulk CrI3 crystal. T.T. and K.W. synthesized the bulk hBN crystal. D.Z., X.X., W.Y. and D.X. analysed the data. X.X., D.Z., K.L.S., W.Y. and D.X. wrote the paper with input from all authors. All authors discussed the results.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xiaodong Xu.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature Nanotechnology thanks Young Hee Lee, Guoqiang Yu, Igor Zutic and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Texts 1 and 2, and Supplementary Figs. 1–8.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhong, D., Seyler, K.L., Linpeng, X. et al. Layer-resolved magnetic proximity effect in van der Waals heterostructures. Nat. Nanotechnol. 15, 187–191 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Find nanotechnology articles, nanomaterial data and patents all in one place. Visit Nano by Nature Research