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The Electrically Controlled Exchange Bias

Xi He, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Controlling magnetism via voltage in the virtual absence of electric current is the key to reduce power consumption while enhancing processing speed, integration density and functionality in comparison with present-day information technology. Almost all spintronic devices rely on tailored interface magnetism. Controlling magnetism at thin-film interfaces, preferably by purely electrical means, is therefore a key challenge to better spintronics. However, there is no direct interaction between magnetization and electric fields, thus making voltage control of magnetism in general a scientific challenge. The significance of controlled interface magnetism started with the exchange-bias effect. Exchange bias is a coupling phenomenon at magnetic interfaces that manifests itself prominently in the shift of the ferromagnetic hysteresis loop along the magnetic-field axis. ^ Various attempts on controlling exchange bias via voltage utilizing different scientific principles have been intensively studied recently. The majority of present research is emphasizing on various complex oxides. Our approach can be considered as a paradigm shift away from complex oxides. We focus on a magnetoelectric antiferromagnetic simple oxide Cr2O3. From a combination of experimental and theoretical efforts, we show that the (0001) surface of magnetoelectric Cr2O3 has a roughness-insensitive, electrically switchable magnetization. Using a ferromagnetic Pd/Co multilayer deposited on the (0001) surface of a Cr2O3 single crystal, we achieve reversible, room-temperature isothermal switching of the exchange-bias between positive and negative values by reversing the electric field while maintaining a permanent magnetic field. This is a significant scientific breakthrough providing a new route towards potentially revolutionizing information technology. ^ In addition, a second path of electrically controlled exchange bias is introduced by exploiting the piezoelectric property of BaTiO3. An exchange-bias Co/CoO bilayer is deposited on the surface of BaTiO 3 substrate which allows for tunable stress in the adjacent Co thin film. This stress induces strain in the Co film thus alters its magnetic anisotropy. The change of the magnetization orientation at the Co/CoO interface tunes its exchange bias and coercivity and provides a route to study the interface magnetism of the exchange bias heterostructure from a new perspective.^

Subject Area

Nanoscience|Physics, Condensed Matter|Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

He, Xi, "The Electrically Controlled Exchange Bias" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3498634.