Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Nature Materials, Nature Publishing Group, Volume 9, Number 4, p.309-314 (2010)
Keywords:Electric fields, Electric polarization, ferroelastic switching, ferroelectricity, Low-symmetry materials, Magnetoelectric couplings, Magnetoelectric devices, Multiple order parameters, Nanotechnology, Phase-field simulation, Stress-induced instabilities, Switching
Multiferroics, where (anti-) ferromagnetic, ferroelectric and ferroelastic order parameters coexist1-5, enable manipulation of magnetic ordering by an electric field through switching of the electric polarization 6-9. It has been shown that realization of magnetoelectric coupling in a single-phase multiferroic such as BiFeO3 requires ferroelastic (71°, 109°) rather than ferroelectric (180°) domain switching 6. However, the control of such ferroelastic switching in a single-phase system has been a significant challenge as elastic interactions tend to destabilize small switched volumes, resulting in subsequent ferroelastic back-switching at zero electric field, and thus the disappearance of non-volatile information storage. Guided by our phase-field simulations, here we report an approach to stabilize ferroelastic switching by eliminating the stress-induced instability responsible for back-switching using isolated monodomain BiFeO3 islands. This work demonstrates a critical step to control and use non-volatile magnetoelectric coupling at the nanoscale. Beyond magnetoelectric coupling, it provides a framework for exploring a route to control multiple order parameters coupled to ferroelastic order in other low-symmetry materials. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
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