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Manipulating the coupling in multi-ferroic thin Films


R&D and investment in electronics overwhelmingly focus on multi-functionality, which should meet the market demands for radically new components that are more compact, cheaper, and consume less power. Particular attention is being devoted to MagnetoElectric (ME) multi-ferroics exhibiting simultaneous FerroMagnetic and FerroElectric properties, both being coupled. Such materials allow reversing the magnetization by an electric field and vice-versa. ME materials can thusly provide optimum solutions to many device-design problems, with a high potential impact on important segments of the electronics market: high-density electric field controlled MRAM, HF wireless telecoms, spintronics? However the physics of ME coupling is far from being understood. This limits knowledge-based research for materials with optimised properties, and ultimately prohibits industrial use of ME thin films.

The objective of the present STREP proposal MaCoMuFi is to "MAnipulate the COupling in MUltiferroic thin Films" (made of single phase, multi-layers and nanocomposite materials) to ultimately accelerate the development of novel devices for the European Industry. It will set up the first systematic knowledge-based approach in the domain, involving the tight collaboration between oxide synthesis, complex oxides modelling and device design experts.

The main expected outputs of the project are:
(i) novel oxide thin films (5nm thick) with significant ME coupling (higher than 1V/cm.Oe) at room temperature,
(ii) performance validation in new electronic devices (spin filter, magnetic memory, agile filter),
(iii) understanding the relationship between process, structure and composition of the multi-ferroic oxide thin films,
(iv) optimised production processes and tailoring methods,
(v) new techniques for ME coupling measurement and nano-structural characterisation and
(vi) a software tool for the design of ceramic thin films with optimum ME properties.

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