Research - IRG1

IRG1 - Magnetoelectric Materials and Functional Interfaces
IRG1 - Magnetoelectric Materials and Functional Interfaces

Magnetoelectric (ME) materials are at the frontier of materials research due to a variety of non-trivial coupling mechanisms interweaving electric and magnetic degrees of freedom. Their properties are in many aspects superior over today’s spintronic materials where the emphasis is on creating and manipulating spin-polarized (but nevertheless dissipating) electric currents. Controlling ME coupling on the nanoscale enables unprecedented possibilities to tailor functional materials and complex nanostructures, thus opening unique perspectives for novel technologies where electrically controlled magnetism offers innovative approaches for device operation.
The primary objective of this IRG is to understand magnetoelectricity in complex functional heterostructures and enable its unconventional use beyond the realm of static equilibrium and linear response. This objective will be achieved through interdisciplinary investigations of ME antiferromagnets, complex oxide thin films, ME multiferroics, and molecular-level magnetoelectrics. They will be implemented in new functional heterostructures and subject to external stimuli giving rise to responses in a hitherto unexplored parameter space. The expected research outcomes are new insights in the ME coupling and spin dynamics of magnetoelectrics, development of novel voltage-controlled ultra-low power spintronic devices, and harnessing voltage-controlled entropy changes in conceptually new materials design.

IRG 1 Researchers

Christian Binek (coordinator) - MBE, PLD, Magnetometry

Shireen Adenwalla - Sputtering, XMCD, Kerr

Kirill Belashchenko - Theory transport, magnetoelectricity

Peter Dowben - Photoemission, XMCD

Xia Hong - Sputtering, Transport

Dhananjay Kumar - Magnetometry

Rebecca Lai - Biosensors

Mathias Schubert - THz Ellipsometry

Jeffrey Shield - HRTEM

Xiaoshan Xu - PLD, n0-scattering

Jian Zhang - Chemical synthesis




Research Thrust 1:
Dynamic Straindriven Phase Transitions

Thrust 1 explores dynamic strain-driven phase transitions and entropy changes in ME bulk materials and thin films. Here the full potential of ME coupling beyond the linear static regime is exploited.


  • ME boundary magnetization and antiferromagnetic order
  • Oxides with strain sensitive metal-insulator transition
  • Electromagnon dispersion
  • Magnetocaloric effect

Research Thrust 2:
Functional Magnetoelectric Materials and Interfaces

Thrust 2 utilizes ME heterostructures and materials for fundamental investigations of voltage-controlled interface and bulk magnetic states and paves the way for the development of ultra-low power non-volatile memory applications, where switching of magnetic state variables by electrically driven non-linear processes is a key phenomenon.


  • Detecting ME boundary magnetization
  • Hexagonal ferrite films as ME active materials
  • Electric field control of interface magnetic anisotropy and exchange bias

Research Thrust 3:
Molecular-level Magnetoelectrics

Thrust 3 explores novel molecular-level magnetoelectrics where local and external electric fields are used to switch organic spin crossover molecules and to control and characterize the magnetism of nanoclusters and thin films. Here the basic concepts of Thrusts 1 and 2 are extrapolated down to the scale of individual molecules.


  • Spin-crossover molecular overlayers
  • Tailoring magnetism of metal nanoclusters by single dipolar molecule ligands


IRG 1 Highlights:

» ACS Nano 2017
S. Beniwal, J. Hooper, D. P. Miller, P. S. Costa, G. Chen, S.-Y. Liu, P. A. Dowben, E. C. H. Sykes, E. Zurek, and A. Enders, “Graphene-like Boron–Carbon–Nitrogen Monolayers,” ACS Nano 11(3), 2486–2493 (2017).

» Advanced Functional Materials 2016
U. Singh, W. Echtenkamp, M. Street, C. Binek, and S. Adenwalla, “Local Writing of Exchange Biased Domains in a Heterostructure of Co/Pd Pinned by Magnetoelectric Chromia,” Adv. Funct.  Mater. 26, 7470-7478 (2016).

» Physical Review Applied 2016
J. Wang and C. Binek, “Dispersion of Electric-Field-Induced Faraday Effect in Magnetoelectric Cr2O3,” Phys. Rev. Appl. 5, 031001 [6 pp] (2016).

» Physical Review Letters 2016
- A. Rajapitamahuni, L. Zhang, M. A Koten, V. R. Singh, J. D. Burton, E. Y. Tsymbal, J. E. Shield, and X. Hong, "Giant Enhancement of Magnetic Anisotropy in Ultrathin Manganite Films via Nanoscale 1D Periodic Depth Modulation," Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 187201 (2016).
K. D. Belashchenko, A. A. Kovalev, and M. van Schilfgaarde, “Theory of Spin Loss at Metallic Interfaces,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 207204 [6pp] (2016).

» Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 2016
S. Cao, X. Zhang, T. R. Paudel, K. Sinha, X. Wang, X. Jiang, W. Wang, S. Brutsche, J. Wang, P. J. Ryan, J.-W. Kim, X. Cheng, E. Y. Tsymbal, P. A. Dowben, and X. Xu, “On the Structural Origin of the Single-Ion Magnetic Anisotropy in LuFeO3,” J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 28, 156001 [10 pp] (2016).

» Applied Physical Letters 2015
L. Zhang, X. G. Chen, H. J. Gardner, M. A. Koten, J. E. Shield, and X. Hong, “Effect of Strain on Ferroelectric Field Effect in Strongly Correlated Oxide Sm0.5Nd0.5NiO3”, Appl. Phys. Lett. 107, 152906 [5 pp] (2015).

» Nano Letters 2015
A. Nguyen, P. Sharma, T. Scott, E. Preciado, V. Klee, D. Sun, I.-H. Lu, D. Barroso, S. Kim, V. Y. Shur, A. R. Akhmatkhanov, A. Gruverman, L. Bartels, and P. A. Dowben, “Toward ferroelectric control of monolayer MoS2," Nano Lett. 15 (5), 3364-3369 (2015).