Electric-field control of magnetism in a few-layered van der Waals ferromagnetic semiconductor


Manipulating a quantum state via electrostatic gating has been of great importance for many model systems in nanoelectronics. Until now, however, controlling the electron spins or, more specifically, the magnetism of a system by electric-field tuning has proven challenging1,2,3,4. Recently, atomically thin magnetic semiconductors have attracted significant attention due to their emerging new physical phenomena5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13. However, many issues are yet to be resolved to convincingly demonstrate gate-controllable magnetism in these two-dimensional materials. Here, we show that, via electrostatic gating, a strong field effect can be observed in devices based on few-layered ferromagnetic semiconducting Cr2Ge2Te6. At different gate doping, micro-area Kerr measurements in the studied devices demonstrate bipolar tunable magnetization loops below the Curie temperature, which is tentatively attributed to the moment rebalance in the spin-polarized band structure. Our findings of electric-field-controlled magnetism in van der Waals magnets show possibilities for potential applications in new-generation magnetic memory storage, sensors and spintronics.

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Fig. 1: Characterization of Cr2Ge2Te6 and its FET with a Si gate.
Fig. 2: Electrical transport and magnetic properties of ~20 nm Cr2Ge2Te6 FETs with ionic gate.
Fig. 3: Electrical transport properties of BN-encapsulated few-layered Cr2Ge2Te6 FETs with Si gate.
Fig. 4: Kerr measurement of BN-encapsulated 3.5 nm Cr2Ge2Te6 sample with solid Si gate.
Fig. 5: First-principles simulations.


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This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFA0206302) and by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC; grants 11504385 and 51627801). Z.Z. acknowledges support from the NSFC (grant 51331006) and the CAS (project KJZD-EW-M05-3). T.Y. acknowledges support from the Major Program of Aerospace Advanced Manufacturing Technology Research Foundation, NSFC and CASC (grant U1537204). The work in Shanxi University was supported financially by the NSFC (grant 61574087) and the Fund for Shanxi ‘1331 Project’ Key Subjects Construction (1331KSC). D.S. acknowledges support from the NSFC (grants 51272256, 61422406 and 61574143) and MSTC (grant 2016YFB04001100). S.O. acknowledges support from Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S) (25220604) and LANEF. The authors are grateful for discussions with H. Yuan.

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Z.H. and Z.Z. conceived the experiment and supervised the overall project. Z.W., X.L. and Y.Y. fabricated the samples. Z.W., T.Z., Ya.L., Y.C. and Z.H. carried out experimental measurements. S.O. provided the ionic liquid and advised on the experiment. B.D., J.H. and T.Y. conducted the theoretical simulations. Z.H., M.D., T.Z., T.Y. and Y.C. analysed the data. The manuscript was written by Z.H., Y.C. and T.Y. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yuansen Chen or Teng Yang or Zheng Han.

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Wang, Z., Zhang, T., Ding, M. et al. Electric-field control of magnetism in a few-layered van der Waals ferromagnetic semiconductor. Nature Nanotech 13, 554–559 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-018-0186-z

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