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Manipulating the coupling in multi-ferroic thin Films

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Novel magnetoelectric materials and devices

EU-funded researchers developed tools for characterisation of magnetoelectric coupling as well as novel materials that could lead to development of a new generation of multi-functional electronic devices.

Industrial Technologies

Multiferroic (MF) materials are those that exhibit more than one ferroic property simultaneously. Typically, the term refers to materials that exhibit both ferromagnetic (FM) and ferroelectric (FE) properties, those that can be reversibly magnetised when exposed to a magnetic field or reversibly polarised in the presence of an electric field. MFs are rare and rarer still are MFs that exhibit coupling between the magnetic and electric parameters, namely magnetoelectric (ME) coupling. In other words, the magnetic phase can be controlled with an applied electric field or the polarisation can be controlled with an applied magnetic field. In particular, MF thin film single-phase materials are poised to play a major role in the development of novel ME devices, but the physics behind ME coupling is as yet not well understood. European researchers set out to enhance the potential of electric devices via the ‘Manipulating the coupling in multiferroic thin films’ (Macomufi) project. Specifically, they sought to enable electric tuning of FM resonance of radio frequency filters and of magnetic spin wave (MSW) devices. Researchers used non-linear methods to investigate ME coupling, and developed novel MF materials and composites to be applied as thin films and new tools to characterise the structure of MF thin films. Barium titanate (BaTiO3) is an established FE whose properties cannot lead to MF behaviour of the compound itself. However, the Macomufi project team demonstrated that the electric field induced in BaTiO3 at room temperature induced a magnetic polarisation in certain MF nanocomposite thin films. Macomufi project results have the potential to accelerate the development of novel ME devices in Europe with the first systematic knowledge-based approach for performance evaluation, measurement and characterisation of MF behaviours and ME coupling in single-phase thin films. Marketing of novel compact devices with multi-functionality, lower energy consumption and decreased cost could position the EU for a leading position in the growing global ME-MF materials market.

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