A Japanese research team, led by Jun Okabayashi from the University of Tokyo, including Associate Professor Yoshihiro Gohda from Tokyo Tech and Osaka University researchers, recently revealed a strain-induced orbital control mechanism in interfacial multiferroics.
Controlling the direction of magnetization using low electric field is important for achieving efficient spintronic devices. In spintronics, properties of an electron's spin or magnetic moment are used to store information. The electron spins can be manipulated by straining orbital magnetic moments to create a high-performance magnetoelectric effect.
In multiferroic materials, the magnetic field can be controlled using an electric field—potentially leading to efficient spintronic devices. The interfacial multiferroics that Okabayashi and his colleagues studied consist of a junction between a ferromagnetic material and a piezoelectric material. The direction of magnetization in the material could be controlled by applying voltage.
The team showed the microscopic origin of the large magnetoelectric effect in the material. The strain generated from the piezoelectric material could change the orbital magnetic moment of the ferromagnetic material. They revealed element-specific orbital control in the interfacial multiferroic material using reversible strain and provided guidelines for designing materials with a large magnetoelectric effect. The findings can potentially be useful in developing new information writing technology that consumes less power.