Materials that exhibit simultaneous order in their electric and magnetic ground states hold promise for use in next-generation memory devices in which electric fields control magnetism1,2. Such materials are exceedingly rare, however, owing to competing requirements for displacive ferroelectricity and magnetism3. Despite the recent identification of several new multiferroic materials and magnetoelectric coupling mechanisms4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15, known single-phase multiferroics remain limited by antiferromagnetic or weak ferromagnetic alignments, by a lack of coupling between the order parameters, or by having properties that emerge only well below room temperature, precluding device applications2. Here we present a methodology for constructing single-phase multiferroic materials in which ferroelectricity and strong magnetic ordering are coupled near room temperature. Starting with hexagonal LuFeO3—the geometric ferroelectric with the greatest known planar rumpling16—we introduce individual monolayers of FeO during growth to construct formula-unit-thick syntactic layers of ferrimagnetic LuFe2O4 (refs 17, 18) within the LuFeO3 matrix, that is, (LuFeO3)m/(LuFe2O4)1 superlattices. The severe rumpling imposed by the neighbouring LuFeO3 drives the ferrimagnetic LuFe2O4 into a simultaneously ferroelectric state, while also reducing the LuFe2O4 spin frustration. This increases the magnetic transition temperature substantially—from 240 kelvin for LuFe2O4 (ref. 18) to 281 kelvin for (LuFeO3)9/(LuFe2O4)1. Moreover, the ferroelectric order couples to the ferrimagnetism, enabling direct electric-field control of magnetism at 200 kelvin. Our results demonstrate a design methodology for creating higher-temperature magnetoelectric multiferroics by exploiting a combination of geometric frustration, lattice distortions and epitaxial engineering.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
We acknowledge discussions with G. Stiehl, R. Haislmaier, A. SenGupta, V. Gopalan, W. Wang, W. Wu and E. Barnard and technical support with the electron microscopy from E. J. Kirkland, M. Thomas and J. Grazul. Research primarily supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, under Award No. DE-SC0002334, which supported the work of J.A.Mu. (2010–2014), C.M.B., M.E.H., J.A.Mo., H.D., A.F.R., R.He., Q.M., H.P., R.M., C.J.F., P.S., D.A.M. and D.G.S. Substrate preparation was performed in part at the Cornell NanoScale Facility, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), which is supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant ECCS-15420819). The electron microscopy studies made use of the electron microscopy facility of the Cornell Center for Materials Research, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers programme (DMR 1120296) and NSF IMR-0417392. X-ray dichroism was performed at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Advanced Light Source is supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the US Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. J.A.Mu. acknowledges fellowship support from the Army Research Office in the form of a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship and from the National Science Foundation in the form of a Graduate Research Fellowship. J.A.Mu. was funded (July 2015–) by C-SPINS, one of six centres of STARnet, a Semiconductor Research Corporation programme, sponsored by MARCO and DARPA. J.T.H. acknowledges support from the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) under grant 2014-IN-2534. J.D.C. acknowledges support from SRC-FAME, one of six centres of STARnet, a Semiconductor Research Corporation programme sponsored by MARCO and DARPA. S.M.D. acknowledges the support of a National Research Council NIST postdoctoral research associateship. Z.L. acknowledges support from the NSF under Grant No. EEC-1160504 NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS). A.F. is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. R.Ho. and L.F.K. acknowledge support by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. E.P. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation in the form of a Graduate Research Fellowship (DGE-1144153). Certain commercial equipment, instruments, or materials are identified in this paper to foster understanding. Such identification does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor does it imply that the materials or equipment identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose.
Extended data figures
About this article
Nature Reviews Chemistry (2018)