Multiferroics of spin origin

Rep Prog Phys. 2014 Jul;77(7):076501. doi: 10.1088/0034-4885/77/7/076501. Epub 2014 Jul 4.


Multiferroics, compounds with both magnetic and ferroelectric orders, are believed to be a key material system to achieve cross-control between magnetism and electricity in a solid with minute energy dissipation. Such a colossal magnetoelectric (ME) effect has been an issue of keen interest for a long time in condensed matter physics as well as a most desired function in the emerging spin-related electronics. Here we begin with the basic mechanisms to realize multiferroicity or spin-driven ferroelectricity in magnetic materials, which have recently been clarified and proved both theoretically and experimentally. According to the proposed mechanisms, many families of multiferroics have been explored, found (re-discovered), and newly developed, realizing a variety of colossal ME controls. We overview versatile multiferroics from the viewpoints of their multiferroicity mechanisms and their fundamental ME characteristics on the basis of the recent advances in exploratory materials. One of the new directions in multiferroic science is the dynamical ME effect, namely the dynamical and/or fast cross-control between electric and magnetic dipoles in a solid. We argue here that the dynamics of multiferroic domain walls significantly contributes to the amplification of ME response, which has been revealed through the dielectric spectroscopy. Another related issue is the electric-dipole-active magnetic resonance, called electromagnons. The electromagnons can provide a new stage of ME optics via resonant coupling with the external electromagnetic wave (light). Finally, we give concluding remarks on multiferroics physics in the light of a broader perspective from the emergent electromagnetism in a solid as well as from the possible application toward future dissipationless electronics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't