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Electric-field control of local ferromagnetism using a magnetoelectric multiferroic

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 01 August 2008


Multiferroics are of interest for memory and logic device applications, as the coupling between ferroelectric and magnetic properties enables the dynamic interaction between these order parameters. Here, we report an approach to control and switch local ferromagnetism with an electric field using multiferroics. We use two types of electromagnetic coupling phenomenon that are manifested in heterostructures consisting of a ferromagnet in intimate contact with the multiferroic BiFeO3. The first is an internal, magnetoelectric coupling between antiferromagnetism and ferroelectricity in the BiFeO3 film that leads to electric-field control of the antiferromagnetic order. The second is based on exchange interactions at the interface between a ferromagnet (Co0.9Fe0.1) and the antiferromagnet. We have discovered a one-to-one mapping of the ferroelectric and ferromagnetic domains, mediated by the colinear coupling between the magnetization in the ferromagnet and the projection of the antiferromagnetic order in the multiferroic. Our preliminary experiments reveal the possibility to locally control ferromagnetism with an electric field.

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Figure 1: An approach for electrical control of ferromagnetism.
Figure 2: Structural and chemical characterization of exchange heterostructures.
Figure 3: Microscopic evidence for coupling.
Figure 4: Mechanism of coupling in CoFe/BFO heterostructures.
Figure 5: Dynamic switching device structure.
Figure 6: Electrical control of local ferromagnetism.


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The work at Berkeley is supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences Division of the US Department of Energy under contract No. DE-AC02-05CH1123. The authors from both Berkeley and Stanford would also like to acknowledge the support of the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics and acknowledge the support of the National Center for Electron Microscopy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Correspondence to Lane W. Martin.

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Chu, YH., Martin, L., Holcomb, M. et al. Electric-field control of local ferromagnetism using a magnetoelectric multiferroic. Nature Mater 7, 478–482 (2008).

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