Bottom-Up Multiferroic Nanostructures

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Multiferroic and especially magnetoelectric (ME) nanocomposites have received extensive attention due to their potential applications in spintronics, information storage and logic devices. The extrinsic ME coupling in composites is strain mediated via the interface between the piezoelectric and magnetostrictive components. However, the design and synthesis of controlled nanostructures with engineering enhanced coupling remain a significant challenge. The purpose of this thesis is to create nanostructures with very large interface densities and unique connectivities of the two phases in a controlled manner. Using inorganic solid state phase transformations and organic block copolymer self assembly methodologies, we present novel self assembly "bottom-up" techniques as a general protocol for the nanofabrication of multifunctional devices.

First, Lead-Zirconium-Titanate/Nickel-Ferrite (PZT/NFO) vertical multilamellar nanostructures have been produced by crystallizing and decomposing a gel in a magnetic field below the Curie temperature of NFO. The ensuing microstructure is nanoscopically periodic and anisotropic. The wavelength of the PZT/NFO alternation, 25 nm, agrees within a factor of two with the theoretically estimated value. The macroscopic ferromagnetic and magnetoelectric responses correspond qualitatively and semi-quantitatively to the features of the nanostructure. The maximum of the field dependent magnetoelectric susceptibility equals 1.8 V/cm Oe.

Second, a magnetoelectric composite with controlled nanostructures is synthesized using co-assembly of two inorganic precursors with a block copolymer. This solution processed material consists of hexagonally arranged ferromagnetic cobalt ferrite (CFO) nano-cylinders within a matrix of ferroelectric Lead-Zirconium-Titanate (PZT). The initial magnetic permeability of the self-assembled CFO/PZT nanocomposite changes by a factor of 5 through the application of 2.5 V. This work may have significant impact on the development of novel memory or logic devices through self assembly techniques. It also demonstrates a universal two-phase hard template application.

Last, solid-state self assembly had been used recently to form pseudoperiodic chessboard-like nanoscale morphologies in a series of chemically homogeneous complex oxide systems. We improved on this approach by synthesizing a spontaneously phase separated nanolamellar BaTiO3-CoFe2O4 bi-crystal. The superlattice is magnetoelectric with a frequency dependent coupling. The BaTiO3 component is a ferroelectric relaxor with a Vogel-Fulcher temperature of 311 K. Since the material can be produced by standard ceramic processing methods, the discovery represents great potential for magnetoelectric devices.