Boffins discover new type of multiferroic material

Scientists in research lab

Scientists have uncovered a new set of multiferroic materials that could be used to transform the next generation of electronic devices such as iPods or smartphones.

The Argonne National Laboratory's discovery is both ferromagnetic and has ferroelectric polarisation, meaning it has great potential for the future of memory, sensors and multifunctional devices.

The breakthrough stems from the microscopic materials design principle determined by Argonne scientist Craig Fennie. As part of the research effort, boffins from Argonne's materials science division and Centre for Nanoscale Materials worked alongside teams from Pennsylvania State University, the University of Chicago and Cornell University.

Piezoresponse force microscopy, optical second harmonic generation and magnetometry were all used to prove the theory.

"We were able to take the theory and, through targeted synthesis and measurement, prove that FeTiO3 has both weak ferro magnetism and ferro electricity, just as Craig predicted," said fellow Argonne scientist John Mitchell, in a statement.

"Success in this materials design and discovery project would not have been possible without a collaborative team involving several disciplines and talents from across the lab and indeed the country."

The research was funded by the US Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Argonne scientist John Mitchell

Argonne scientist John Mitchell assembles the high pressure furnace used in creating the multiferroic properties of FeTiO3.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

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