Materials used in electronic devices are typically chosen because they possess either special magnetic or special electrical properties. However, an international team of researchers using neutron scattering recently identified a rare material that has both.
In their paper published in Advanced Materials, the team, including researchers from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), illustrates how this unique marriage is achieved in the multiferroic material BiMn3Cr4O12. Many materials are known for just one characteristic magnetic or electrical property, or for having the ability to change shape, but multiferroics contain some combination of these attributes.
Multiferroics are typically divided into two distinct categories: conventional (type-1) and unconventional (type-2). Conventional multiferroics are predominantly controlled by electricity and exhibit weak interactions with magnetism. Conversely, unconventional multiferroics are driven by magnetism and exhibit strong electrical interactions.
“We have found an interesting example of joint multiferroicity, meaning that both conventional and unconventional multiferroicity develop one after the other in the same material,” said ORNL researcher Huibo Cao.
One reason multiferroics are so desirable is that their dual characteristics can be controlled in combination with each other, providing, for example, electrically controlled magnetism or magnetically controlled electrical properties. Researchers say a better understanding of how these multifunctional materials behave could lead to significant advances in information storage and power performance in new devices.
Read more: Neutrons help demystify multiferroic materials
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