Superconductivity and magnetism are usually sworn enemies and often refuse to cohabit in the same compound. In a new method to make a multifunctional material by direct chemical design, layers of superconducting material and layers of magnetic material, each one molecule thick, have been pre-assembled and then brought together by electrostatic attraction. Thus, rather than building up the material one molecule at a time, nanosheets with different functionalities have been self-assembled. This is like constructing a building by adding entire pre-fabricated floors rather than brick by brick, and is the secret behind combining these two inimical properties.
Putting magnetic and superconducting layers together in close proximity offers the possibility of using one property to alter the other. To examine the effect of this coupling in this new class of materials, we have used ISIS muons to determine the volume of the sample that becomes magnetically ordered as well as the strength of the superconducting state.