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Strain-controlled magnetic domain wall propagation in hybrid piezoelectric/ferromagnetic structures

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      Abstract

      The control of magnetic order in nanoscale devices underpins many proposals for integrating spintronics concepts into conventional electronics. A key challenge lies in finding an energy-efficient means of control, as power dissipation remains an important factor limiting future miniaturization of integrated circuits. One promising approach involves magnetoelectric coupling in magnetostrictive/piezoelectric systems, where induced strains can bear directly on the magnetic anisotropy. While such processes have been demonstrated in several multiferroic heterostructures, the incorporation of such complex materials into practical geometries has been lacking. Here we demonstrate the possibility of generating sizeable anisotropy changes, through induced strains driven by applied electric fields, in hybrid piezoelectric/spin-valve nanowires. By combining magneto-optical Kerr effect and magnetoresistance measurements, we show that domain wall propagation fields can be doubled under locally applied strains. These results highlight the prospect of constructing low-power domain wall gates for magnetic logic devices.

      Abstract

      The use of electric fields to control the magnetization of ferromagnetic materials could enable more efficient electronics. Lei et al. show that by applying lateral strain to a magnetostrictive nanowire with a piezoelectric, voltage-controlled gating of magnetic domain wall motion in the wire can be achieved.

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      Most cited references 19

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      Multiferroic and magnetoelectric materials.

      A ferroelectric crystal exhibits a stable and switchable electrical polarization that is manifested in the form of cooperative atomic displacements. A ferromagnetic crystal exhibits a stable and switchable magnetization that arises through the quantum mechanical phenomenon of exchange. There are very few 'multiferroic' materials that exhibit both of these properties, but the 'magnetoelectric' coupling of magnetic and electrical properties is a more general and widespread phenomenon. Although work in this area can be traced back to pioneering research in the 1950s and 1960s, there has been a recent resurgence of interest driven by long-term technological aspirations.
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        Magnetic domain-wall racetrack memory.

        Recent developments in the controlled movement of domain walls in magnetic nanowires by short pulses of spin-polarized current give promise of a nonvolatile memory device with the high performance and reliability of conventional solid-state memory but at the low cost of conventional magnetic disk drive storage. The racetrack memory described in this review comprises an array of magnetic nanowires arranged horizontally or vertically on a silicon chip. Individual spintronic reading and writing nanodevices are used to modify or read a train of approximately 10 to 100 domain walls, which store a series of data bits in each nanowire. This racetrack memory is an example of the move toward innately three-dimensional microelectronic devices.
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          Epitaxial BiFeO3 multiferroic thin film heterostructures.

          Enhancement of polarization and related properties in heteroepitaxially constrained thin films of the ferroelectromagnet, BiFeO3, is reported. Structure analysis indicates that the crystal structure of film is monoclinic in contrast to bulk, which is rhombohedral. The films display a room-temperature spontaneous polarization (50 to 60 microcoulombs per square centimeter) almost an order of magnitude higher than that of the bulk (6.1 microcoulombs per square centimeter). The observed enhancement is corroborated by first-principles calculations and found to originate from a high sensitivity of the polarization to small changes in lattice parameters. The films also exhibit enhanced thickness-dependent magnetism compared with the bulk. These enhanced and combined functional responses in thin film form present an opportunity to create and implement thin film devices that actively couple the magnetic and ferroelectric order parameters.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Institut d’Electronique Fondamentale, Université Paris-Sud , 91405 Orsay, France
            [2 ]UMR 8622, CNRS , 91405 Orsay, France
            [3 ]Laboratoire de Génie Electrique de Paris, CNRS, UMR8507/SUPELEC/UPMC/Univ Paris-Sud , 91192 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
            [4 ]Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge , JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK
            Journal
            Nat Commun
            Nat Commun
            Nature Communications
            Nature Pub. Group
            2041-1723
            22 January 2013
            : 4
            : 1378
            23340418
            3562456
            ncomms2386
            10.1038/ncomms2386
            Copyright © 2013, Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.

            This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

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