LSU researchers have advanced a little-understood branch of science that involves manipulating materials to make some of the most advanced technology tools.

The properties of some hard, complex materials change under specific temperatures, magnetic fields and pressures. Researchers from LSU, Fudan University in China, the University of Florida and the Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures in Nanjing, China, have researched materials that separate into different regions through a process called electronic phase separation.

The researchers manipulated a steel gray mineral called manganite, used to build magnetic hard discs in computers. They created holes, or antidots, in thin films of manganite. It was discovered that the edges of the antidots were magnetic.

“The discovery of the magnetic edge states on the antidots made this work possible. Nobody had ever seen this before,” said LSU physics professor Ward Plummer, a co-author on the study.

Their research advances the understanding of how these materials can be manipulated without having to discover new materials, change the chemical concentration or apply external magnetic fields.

Their research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.