Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie Institute demonstrate how it is possible to induce a magnetic order on a small region of a material by using a small electric field, instead of commonly used magnetic field.

Spintronics by straintronics HZB

Te researchers used a wedge-shaped polycrystalline iron thin film deposited on top of a BaTiO3 substrate (a well-known ferroelectric and ferroelastic material). Given their small size, the magnetic moments of the iron nanograins are disordered with respect to each other, this state is known as superparamagnetism.

The researchers have published results that show how the electrical field induced a strain on BaTiO3. The strain was transmitted to the iron nanograins on top of it and formerly superparamagnetic regions of the sample switched to a new state in which the magnetic moments of the iron grains are all aligned along the same direction (superferromagnetism).