Multiferroic material breaks symmetry with layers

posted Oct 13, 2014, 12:32 PM by   [ updated Oct 13, 2014, 12:32 PM ]
An international team of scientists have made a material capable of both piezoelectric and ferromagnetic behaviour. The discovery opens up the possibility of a new class of polarisable and magnetic compounds, and could lead to better devices for storing electronic information.

New data storage techniques are in demand to meet the ever-increasing use of digital information. Present methods rely on the writing and reading of computer bits by electricity, and require a high electrical current. This generates heat so the amount of data that can be stored on a drive is limited by how efficiently the device can be cooled.

One possible solution is to read the bits electronically but write them magnetically, thereby removing the need for high electrical currents and cooling mechanisms. This method requires a material in which the electrical polarisation can be controlled by changing the magnetic field, but so far no such materials have been discovered.