A conscious linkage of electrical and magnetic substances

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Researchers have successfully grouped ferromagnetic and ferroelectric materials so that their movement can be regulated with a small electronic field at room temperatures, a great accomplishment that could open avenues to extremely low-power microprocessors, next-generation electrical and storage devices.

The work, headed by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cornell University. The scientists structured sleek, atomically correct films of hexagonal lutetium iron oxide, a substance known to be strong ferroelectric, but not robustly magnetic. Lutetium iron oxide comprises of alternating singular monolayers of lutetium oxide and singular monolayers of iron oxide, differencing from a robust ferromagnetic oxide that comprises of alternating monolayers of lutetium oxide with double monolayers of iron oxide.

The scientists identified that by adding one additional monolayer of iron oxide to every ten atomic repeats of the singular monolayer pattern, they could drastically enhance the properties of materials and release a robustly ferromagnetic layer at room temperature. They also tested the novel substance to showcase that the ferromagnetic atoms allowed the alignment of their ferroelectric neighbors when shifted by an electrical field.

Scientists have thought alternatives to semiconductor based electrical over the previous decades as it boosts in density and speed of microprocessors come at the cost of enhanced demands on electricity and hotter circuits. Coupling ferromagnetic and ferroelectric substances into multi-ferroic layer would grab the benefits of both systems, allowing an extensive array of memory applications with minimum power requirements. It has been a difficult affair, however, such the forces required to shift one type of material fail to work for the other. Polarizing the ferroelectric substance would have no effect on the ferromagnetic one.


To reveal that this linking was working at the atomic level, the scientists took the multiferroic layer generated at Cornell to the Berkeley Lab Advanced Light Source. They equip and gain efficacy to verify the material and gather images of the result utilizing photoemission electron microscopy. “It was when our associates at Berkeley Lab illustrated electronic regulation of magnetism in the substance that we prepared things got super exciting,” says Schlom at Cornell. “The room-temperature of multiferroics is rare. Comprising our novel material, a maximum of four are known, but only single room-temperature multiferroic was known in which magnetism can be regulated electrically. Our work reveals that completely distinct mechanism is active in this novel substance, offering us hope for much better, stronger and higher temperature manifestations for further studies.”


The scientists further plan to identify the strategies for lowering the voltage threshold for directing the movement of polarization. It comprises experimenting with distinct substrates for developing novel materials.

“We want to reveal that such works at half a volt and also at 5 volts,” says Ramesh. “We also intend to create a working gadget with the multiferroic.” Henna Das, a researcher at the Berkeley Lab and associate specialist at UC Berkeley, is another author of the study. Das instigated the work as a postdoctoral research at the Cornell University and is the head author of this experiment.