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Sheena Patel ’14


ARMED WITH KNOWLEDGE FROM RESEARCH undertaken during her first and second years, Sheena Patel ’14 traveled this summer with physics professors James Eckert and Patricia Sparks to South Korea, to attend the International Conference on Magnetism. Patel, the only undergraduate in attendance, attracted the attention of a number of leaders in the field of magnetism. Te HMC research team is studying magnetic multilayers,


the lynchpin of magnetic device technology. Patel is investigat- ing thin-film multilayers of cobalt and nickel, materials that in- teract magnetically with each other and with externally applied magnetic fields. Tese magnetic materials are used in magnetic device technology, such as hard drives (read/write heads) and position sensors, and give rise to devices that are often more stable and require less power than equivalent devices dependent on the electronic properties of materials. Te field of magnetic device technology is a rapidly expanding area of research with many unanswered questions that range from fundamental phys- ics to the economics of bringing novel new devices to market. Enter the HMC team. Equipped with state-of-the-art


systems, they are well positioned to add to this discussion. In particular, Patel has been making a series of measurements involving the Hall effect and anisotropic magnetoresistance. Tese measurements provide a window into how magnetic materials behave when combined in separate layers or when mixed together. Patel presented two posters that showed the effect of cobalt


vs. nickel layer thickness on magnetic interactions of the two materials. Her presentations were very well received and generated significant discussion. Dan Dahlberg, director of the Magnetic Microscopy Center at the University of Minnesota, was impressed with Patel’s research and presentation. “She was clearly equal, in my opinion, to the graduate students and post docs in her session, a real testament to her abilities and the quality of her work and training. Te quality of the stu- dents at Mudd is excellent, and the research opportunities for students in the Magnetism Group at Harvey Mudd College are truly outstanding and unique among undergraduate physics programs.” Eric Fullerton ’84, Univer-


My balance tip: Find at least one thing that you love outside of your work, and force yourself to make room in your schedule for it.


sity of San Diego professor, director of the Center for Magnetic Recording Research


and one of top researchers in the field, collaborates with the HMC magnetic group. “Emerging spin-electronic (spintronic) devices provide a pathway to low-power memories and electron- ics but require new nanostructured materials. Sheena’s study of the magnetoresistance and the Hall effect provide new insight into these prototype spintronic materials. Te results are world class. Tey are well beyond what one might expect from an undergraduate and reflect the environment for cutting edge


FALL/WINTER 2012 Har vey Mudd College 15


research at HMC,” he says. “It was cool to see


“It was cool to see how


interested


how interested physicists at the conference were on the effects we were seeing,” says Patel. “Tese are measurements that haven’t been seen before, and we believe they are significant. Te measure- ments we have taken so far are very interesting, but we have not even scratched the surface of the mechanisms behind them.” Patel keeps her busy academic life in perspective by finding


physicists were on the effects


we were seeing. These are


measurements that haven’t been seen before.”


“ ”


time away from it—on the tennis court. She’s been playing tennis since childhood and is a member of the Claremont- Mudd-Scripps women’s tennis team. “Sports and teams can be really important and carry over into other activities, so I make the time for tennis. I can’t give up my time on the court.”


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