Multiferroic materials that exhibit both ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity and are coupled through magnetoelectric effects offer the tantalizing prospect of enabling electric field control of magnetism. Such materials have enormous technological potential but, unfortunately, there are relatively few of them — the most well-known of which is bismuth ferrite. Elzbieta Gradauskaite and colleagues now add a new material into the mix, showing that lead palladium titanate exhibits room-temperature magnetoelectric multiferroicity.
In the search for a new multiferroic, Gradauskaite et al. shifted away from iron-based systems, and turned their attention to palladium. Palladium is a fairly rare element, and is not usually associated with ferromagnetism, but ferromagnetism can be induced under certain conditions. By substituting palladium into the ferroelectric perovskite oxide lead titanate, at both the lead and titanium sites, the authors show that the material exhibits magnetoelectric multiferroicity all the way up to 400 K, despite the system containing some small quantities of other minor phases. Once optimized, they expect this material to exhibit even stronger piezoelectric properties than bismuth ferrite.
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Fleet, L. In rare form. Nature Phys 13, 926 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys4293
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