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Electrical control of antiferromagnetic domains in multiferroic BiFeO3 films at room temperature.

Nature materials

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      Abstract

      Multiferroic materials, which offer the possibility of manipulating the magnetic state by an electric field or vice versa, are of great current interest. In this work, we demonstrate the first observation of electrical control of antiferromagnetic domain structure in a single-phase multiferroic material at room temperature. High-resolution images of both antiferromagnetic and ferroelectric domain structures of (001)-oriented multiferroic BiFeO3 films revealed a clear domain correlation, indicating a strong coupling between the two types of order. The ferroelectric structure was measured using piezo force microscopy, whereas X-ray photoemission electron microscopy as well as its temperature dependence was used to detect the antiferromagnetic configuration. Antiferromagnetic domain switching induced by ferroelectric polarization switching was observed, in agreement with theoretical predictions.

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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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        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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          Revival of the magnetoelectric effect

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.1038/nmat1731
            16951676

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