Ferromagnetic AND Ferroelectric = Multiferroic

Ferromagnetic materials can retain a magnetic charge that is “written” to them using a magnetic field. The magnetic charge can later be “read” from the material allowing us to store data on the material. This is how most hard drives, magnetic tape and many other forms of data storage media work.

Ferroelectric materials can retain an electric polarity charge that is “written” to them using an electric field. The electric polarity can later be “read” from the material allowing us to store data on the material. These substances can be found in the form of ceramics, thin films, and liquid crystals and are often used in non-volatile memory, capacitors, piezoelectrics, and more.

Multiferroic materials can exhibit the properties of both ferromagnetic and ferroelectric substances, showing both magnetism and electrical polarization. Being able to access both properties in the same material offers the potential to develop smaller faster, more capable electronic components in new forms.

Ferroelectric data storage is eight times the density of the most advanced magnetic hard drive – [io9.com]

An experimental “ferroelectric” data-recording device crams 4 trillion bits onto every square inch. This all-electrical method leaves magnetic and flash memory devices scrambling to catch up.

Ho-hum to high performance: A boring material, when ‘stretched,’ could lead to electronics revolution – [cornell.edu]

The oxide compound europium titanate is pretty boring on its own. But sliced nanometers thin and physically stretched on a specially designed template, it takes on properties that could revolutionize the electronics industry, according to Cornell-led research.

The research team, publishing in the journal Nature Aug. 19, reports that thin films of europium titanate become both ferroelectric — electrically polarized — and ferromagnetic — exhibiting a permanent magnetic field — when laid and stretched across a substrate of dysprosium scandate, another type of oxide. The best simultaneously ferroelectric, ferromagnetic material to date pales in comparison by a factor of 1,000.

Simultaneous ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism is rare in nature and coveted by electronics visionaries. A material with this magical combination could form the basis for low-power, highly sensitive magnetic memory, magnetic sensors or highly tunable microwave devices.

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