Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rare coupling of magnetic and electric properties in a single material: New multiferroic mechanism could lead to next-generation memory and sensing devices

Date:
July 25, 2011
Source:
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Summary:
Researchers 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 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.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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.

"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.

"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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Partzsch, S. B. Wilkins, J. P. Hill, E. Schierle, E. Weschke, D. Souptel, B. Bόchner, and J. Geck. Observation of Electronic Ferroelectric Polarization in Multiferroic YMn2O5. Phys. Rev. Lett., 107, 057201 (2011) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.057201

Cite This Page:

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Rare coupling of magnetic and electric properties in a single material: New multiferroic mechanism could lead to next-generation memory and sensing devices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725123657.htm>.
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. (2011, July 25). Rare coupling of magnetic and electric properties in a single material: New multiferroic mechanism could lead to next-generation memory and sensing devices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725123657.htm
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Rare coupling of magnetic and electric properties in a single material: New multiferroic mechanism could lead to next-generation memory and sensing devices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725123657.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins