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      Electric-field control of magnetic domain wall motion and local magnetization reversal

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          Spintronic devices currently rely on magnetic switching or controlled motion of domain walls by an external magnetic field or spin-polarized current. Achieving the same degree of magnetic controllability using an electric field has potential advantages including enhanced functionality and low power consumption. Here we report on an approach to electrically control local magnetic properties, including the writing and erasure of regular ferromagnetic domain patterns and the motion of magnetic domain walls, in CoFe-BaTiO 3 heterostructures. Our method is based on recurrent strain transfer from ferroelastic domains in ferroelectric media to continuous magnetostrictive films with negligible magnetocrystalline anisotropy. Optical polarization microscopy of both ferromagnetic and ferroelectric domain structures reveals that domain correlations and strong inter-ferroic domain wall pinning persist in an applied electric field. This leads to an unprecedented electric controllability over the ferromagnetic microstructure, an accomplishment that produces giant magnetoelectric coupling effects and opens the way to electric-field driven spintronics.

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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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              Multiferroics: progress and prospects in thin films.

              Multiferroic materials, which show simultaneous ferroelectric and magnetic ordering, exhibit unusual physical properties - and in turn promise new device applications - as a result of the coupling between their dual order parameters. We review recent progress in the growth, characterization and understanding of thin-film multiferroics. The availability of high-quality thin-film multiferroics makes it easier to tailor their properties through epitaxial strain, atomic-level engineering of chemistry and interfacial coupling, and is a prerequisite for their incorporation into practical devices. We discuss novel device paradigms based on magnetoelectric coupling, and outline the key scientific challenges in the field.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]simpleNanoSpin, Department of Applied Physics, Aalto University School of Science , P.O. Box 15100, FI-00076 Aalto, Finland
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                10 February 2012
                : 2
                Copyright © 2012, Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit




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