By substituting a few of its iron atoms with the elements scandium and magnesium, Yusuke Tokunaga and Yoshinori Tokura from the Japan Science and Technology Agency, along with Yasujiro Taguchi from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute and their colleagues, have produced a very rare magnet. The rarity of the magnet lies in three features that, taken together, endow it with a high degree of tunability.
Firstly, the new magnet is multiferroic: its magnetization and electric polarization are linked, and each can be potentially controlled by both electrical and magnetic fields. Multiferroic materials may allow for magnetic data storage devices that do not require magnetic fields, resulting in reduced cost, power requirements, and bulk. Other applications, such as sensors, may also be possible.
Another feature of this new magnet is that its electronic spins are arranged in a helix (Fig. 1). Therefore the handedness of the helix is a controllable material quantity, along with the material’s magnetic strength and its electric polarization. By applying a magnetic field, the researchers were able to change the geometry of the helix, which in turn increased or decreased the strength of the electric polarization.
The third distinguishing feature is that the material’s spin helix structure persists even above room temperature. This contrasts with many other known multiferroic materials, which require liquid nitrogen temperatures in order to form helical spin structures. In fact, the research team studied BaFe12O19 because a related but more complex magnet demonstrated a helical spin structure at low temperature. It also proved relatively straightforward to fashion large crystals of BaFe12O19, making measurements and device manufacture easier.
The team concluded that the concentration of scandium, the temperature, and the applied magnetic field strength could all be used to control the strength and direction of the materials magnetic and electrical polarization, as well as the retention times of these polarizations. More generally, the new magnet uncovered by Tokunaga, Taguchi, Tokura and colleagues adds to the catalogue of room-temperature multiferroics, which material scientists have just begun to explore. A particularly alluring goal is the discovery of a material with magnetic and electrical ordering at room temperature and in the absence of magnetic field, says Tokunaga.
The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Cross-Correlated Materials Research Group, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute
 Tokunaga, Y., Kaneko, Y., Okuyama, D., Ishiwata, S., Arima, T., Wakimoto, S., Kakurai, K., Taguchi, Y. & Tokura, Y. Multiferroic M-type hexaferrites with a room-temperature conical state and magnetically controllable spin helicity. Physical Review Letters 105, 257201 (2010).
 Ishiwata, S., Taguchi, Y., Murakawa, H., Onose, Y. & Tokura, Y. Low-magnetic-field control of electric polarization vector in a helimagnet. Science 319, 1643–1646 (2008).
gro-pr | Research asia research news
New materials: Growing polymer pelts
19.11.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Why geckos can stick to walls
19.11.2018 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy