CORDIS - EU research results

Nanometre scale imaging of magnetic perovskite oxide thin films using scanning transmission electron microscopy

Project description

High-tech measurements reveal nanoscale magnetic structures

Multiferroics are a versatile class of materials in which the co-existence of magnetic and ferroelectric order opens the door to control of magnetism by electric fields and vice versa. Although they have been studied more than half a century, advances in related fields have created a new wave of innovation and new windows of opportunity for exploitation. Multiferroic behaviour emerges in perovskite oxides when produced as nanometre-thin films, but harnessing and controlling these properties in new devices requires better characterisation. The EU-funded MAGIMOX project will use high-end scanning transmission electron microscopy to image the nanoscale magnetic structure of these materials enabling correlation of structure and function.


Magnetic materials are a vital part of modern society, being important components in technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging machines and hard disk drives. A common strategy to both improve existing technologies and develop new ones, is miniaturization. The most striking example being the billion-fold increase in silicon semiconductor transistor density, which fundamentally changed society since its invention in the 60ies. However, this miniaturization trend now seems to come to a slow-down as devices are shrinking to sizes where hard physical limits are setting in, and being able to image these nanoscale devices becomes ever more important. Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) is a widely used imaging technique used to study such nanometre scale devices, however it does not readily provide imaging of the magnetic properties at this scale.
The perovskite oxides form a materials family, which exhibits a wide range of properties including magnetism. A similar miniaturization process has been used for these materials, where making them as nanometre thick films revealed new phenomena. The most exciting being multiferroics, where an applied electric field can change the magnetic structure, and vice versa. This has attracted much interest in both making and studying these oxide materials, especially their magnetic properties, due to the great potential for new device concepts. However, due to the small sizes of these films they're often very hard to study, especially when it comes to their nanoscale magnetic structure. This action will take advantage of recently developed fast electron STEM detectors to image the nanometre scale magnetic structures of these materials directly with unprecedented resolution. Using a high-end STEM equipped with such a detector, both the magnetic and crystal structure will be studied in the same microscope. This will enable highly correlated studies of the perovskites, giving a deeper understanding of these new phenomena.


Net EU contribution
€ 166 320,00
2000 Antwerpen

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Antwerpen Arr. Antwerpen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 166 320,00