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Thin films

Unexpected magnetism in a dielectric oxide

Nature volume 430, page 630 (05 August 2004) | Download Citation



It is generally accepted that magnetic order in an insulator requires the cation to have partially filled shells of d or f electrons. Here we show that thin films of hafnium dioxide (HfO2), an insulating oxide better known as a dielectric layer for nanoscale electronic devices, can be ferromagnetic even without doping. This discovery challenges our understanding of magnetism in insulators, because neither Hf4+ nor O2− are magnetic ions and the d and f shells of the Hf4+ ion are either empty or full.

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  1. SFI-Trinity Nanoscience Laboratory, Physics Department, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

    • M. Venkatesan
    • , C. B. Fitzgerald
    •  & J. M. D. Coey


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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to J. M. D. Coey.

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