Physics and Astronomy, Department of


First Advisor

Peter Dowben

Date of this Version

Fall 10-13-2017

Document Type



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfilment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Physics and Astronomy, Under the Supervision of Peter A. Dowben. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Shi Cao


Magnetoelectric materials Cr2O3, hexagonal LuFeO3 and YbFeO3 are studied in this thesis. The surface of chromia (Cr2O3) has a surface electronic structure distinct from the bulk. Our work shows that placing a Cr2O3 single crystal into a single domain state will result in net Cr2O3 spin polarization at the boundary, even in the presence of a gold overlayer. From the Cr 2p3=2 X-ray magnetic circular dichroism signal, there is clear evidence of interface polarization with overlayers of both Pd and Pt on chromia. Cobalt thin films on Cr2O3(0001) show larger magnetic contrast in magnetic force microscopy indicating enhancement of perpendicular anisotropy induced by Cr2O3.

The interfacial charge transfer between mechanically exfoliated few-layer graphene and Cr2O3(0001) surfaces has been investigated showing hole doping of few-layer graphene. Density functional theory calculations furthermore confirm the p-type nature of the graphene on top of chromia, and suggest that the chromia is able to induce a significant carrier spin polarization in the graphene layer.

The surface termination and the nominal valence states for hexagonal LuFeO3 thin films were characterized. The stable surface terminates in a Fe-O layer. This is consistent with the results of density functional calculations. The structural transition at about 1000 C, from the hexagonal to the orthorhombic phase of LuFeO3, has been investigated in thin films of LuFeO3. The electronic structure for the conduction bands of both hexagonal and orthorhombic LuFeO3 thin films have been measured. Dramatic differences in both the spectral features and the linear dichroism are observed.

We have also studied the ferrimagnetism in h-YbFeO3 by measuring the magnetization of Fe and Yb separately. The results directly show antialignment of magnetization of Yb and Fe ions in h-YbFeO3 at low temperature, with an exchange field on Yb of about 17 kOe. All ferrimagnets, by default, are magnetoelectrics. These findings directly demonstrate that ferrimagnetic order exists in h-YbFeO3.

Adviser: Peter A. Dowben