Maxim Mostovoy, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials at the University of Groningen, published a paper on in the journal Nature Materials on 1 December, his second in just over a month. He has helped develop a technique to visualize the magnetoelectric effect in fine detail.
The magnetoelectric effect combines the magnetic and electrical properties of a material, which allows you to induce magnetic polarization and thus create a magnetic bit using only an electric field. Ordinary hard drives need an electric current to generate a magnetic bit, which is much less energy efficient.
‘The magnetoelectric effect was predicted in the 1950s already, and was first observed in 1960,’ says Mostovoy. He published a paper in Nature Materials on 27 October describing the magnetoelectric properties of hexagonal manganites.
This material is made up of small ‘domains’, each of which can have a different magnetic polarization. ‘But until now, we could only study the properties of the bulk material, and not those of the individual domains.’ In the new article, for which Mostovoy provided the theoretical explanation of the measurements, his American colleagues from Rutgers University and Cornell University show how it is possible to study individual domains.
The new technique will further the development of magnetoelectric materials that can be used for more energy-efficient memory storage. Mostovoy: ‘This technique means we can now study the properties of existing and new magnetoelectric materials.’
Direct visualization of magnetoelectric domains, Yanan Geng, Hena Das, Aleksander L. Wysocki, Xueyun Wang, S-W. Cheong, M. Mostovoy, Craig J. Fennie & Weida Wu Nature Materials 1 December 2013 doi:10.1038/nmat3813
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