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Nat Mater. 2008 Sep;7(9):697-700. doi: 10.1038/nmat2259.

Classical and quantum routes to linear magnetoresistance.


The hallmark of materials science is the ability to tailor the microstructure of a given material to provide a desired response. Carbon mixed with iron provides the steel of buildings and bridges; impurities sprinkled in silicon single crystals form the raw materials of the electronics revolution; pinning centres in superconductors let them become powerful magnets. Here, we show that either adding a few parts per million of the proper chemical impurities to indium antimonide, a well-known semiconductor, or redesigning the material's structure on the micrometre scale, can transform its response to an applied magnetic field. The former approach is purely quantum mechanical; the latter a classical outgrowth of disorder, turned to advantage. In both cases, the magnetoresistive response--at the heart of magnetic sensor technology--can be converted to a simple, large and linear function of field that does not saturate. Harnessing the effects of disorder has the further advantage of extending the useful applications range of such a magnetic sensor to very high temperatures by circumventing the usual limitations imposed by phonon scattering.


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