Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rare Coupling of Magnetic and Electric Properties in a Single Material

26.07.2011
New multiferroic mechanism could lead to next-generation memory and sensing devices

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have observed a new way that magnetic and electric properties — which have a long history of ignoring and counteracting each other — can coexist in a special class of metals. These materials, known as multiferroics, could serve as the basis for the next generation of faster and energy-efficient logic, memory, and sensing technology.

The researchers, who worked with colleagues at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Germany, published their findings online in Physical Review Letters on July 25, 2011.

Ferromagnets are materials that display a permanent magnetic moment, or magnetic direction, similar to how a compass needle always points north. They assist in a variety of daily tasks, from sticking a reminder to the fridge door to storing information on a computer’s hard drive. Ferroelectrics are materials that display a permanent electric polarization — a set direction of charge — and respond to the application of an electric field by switching this direction. They are commonly used in applications like sonar, medical imaging, and sensors.

The crystal structure of YMn2O5, which is made of yttrium, manganese, and oxygen. The oxygen atoms are shown in red and the yttrium atoms are gray. The magnetic moments on the manganese are shown as arrows. Ferroelectric polarization occurs between the oxygen and manganese atoms.

“In principle, the coupling of an ordered magnetic material with an ordered electric material could lead to very useful devices,” said Brookhaven physicist Stuart Wilkins, one of the paper’s authors. “For instance, one could imagine a device in which information is written by application of an electric field and read by detecting its magnetic state. This would make a faster and much more energy-efficient data storage device than is available today.”

But multiferroics — magnetic materials with north and south poles that can be reversed with an electric field — are rare in nature. Ferroelectricity and magnetism tend to be mutually exclusive and interact weakly with each other when they coexist.

Most models used by physicists to describe this coupling are based on the idea of distorting the atomic arrangement, or crystal lattice, of a magnetic material, which can result in an electric polarization.

Now, scientists have found a new way that electric and magnetic properties can be coupled in a material. The group used extremely bright beams of x-rays at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) to examine the electronic structure of a particular metal oxide made of yttrium, manganese, and oxygen. They determined that the magnetic-electric coupling is caused by the outer cloud of electrons surrounding the atom.

Co-authors Sven Partzsch (left) and Jochen Geck, researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Germany.

“Previously, this mechanism had only been predicted theoretically and its existence was hotly debated,” Wilkins said.

In this particular material, the manganese and oxygen electrons mix atomic orbitals in a process that creates atomic bonds and keeps the material together. The researchers’ measurements show that this process is dependent upon the magnetic structure of the material, which in this case, causes the material to become ferroelectric, i.e. have an electric polarization. In other words, any change in the material’s magnetic structure will result in a change in direction of its ferroelectric state. By definition, that makes the material a multiferroic.

“What is especially exciting is that this result proves the existence of a new coupling mechanism and provides a tool to study it,” Wilkins said.

The researchers used a new instrument at NSLS designed to answer key questions about many intriguing classes of materials such as multiferroics and high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity without resistance. The instrument, developed by Wilkins and Brookhaven engineers D. Scott Coburn, William Leonhardt, and William Schoenig, will ultimately be moved to the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a state-of-the-art machine currently under construction. NSLS-II will produce x-rays 10,000 times brighter than at NSLS, enabling studies of materials’ properties at even higher resolution.

This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

Kendra Snyder | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials
17.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes

nachricht Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume
15.01.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel chip-based gene expression tool analyzes RNA quickly and accurately

18.01.2018 | Medical Engineering

Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust

18.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>