Towards room-temperature deterministic ferroelectric control of ferromagnetic thin films

The persisting demand of higher computing power and faster information processing keeps pushing scientists and engineers to explore novel materials and device structures. Within emerging functional materials, there is a focus on multiferroics materials and material-systems possessing both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic orders. Multiferroics with two order parameters coupled through a magnetoelectric interaction are of particular interest for novel information processing technologies. This thesis explores a promising concept of magnetoelectric multiferroic heterostructure incorporating separate ferroelectric and ferromagnetic thin layers with field-effect-mediated coupling through the heterointerface. The major issues related to ferroelectric control of ferromagnetism in multiferroic heterostructures addressed in this thesis include non-volatile magnetoelectric coupling at room temperature, deterministic switching of magnetization via polarization reversal, ferroelectric control of dynamics of magnetic domains and integration of ferroelectric gates on magnetic channels. The major accomplishments of this thesis are the following: ‚Ÿ Non-volatile ferroelectric control of magnetic properties has been demonstrated in ultra-thin Co layers at room temperature. The ferromagnetic transition Curie temperature, magnetic anisotropy energy and magnetic coercivity are shown to be switchable via the persistent field effect associated with the ferroelectric polarization. The magnitude of the effect is comparable or exceeds the results observed using the conventional (non-ferroelectric) gates. Local control of individual magnetic domain nucleation and propagation in Co channels by creating new ferroelectric domains has been achieved at the ambient conditions. The microscopic ferroelectric domains written on poly(vinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene) [P(VDF-TrFE)] ferroelectric polymer gate projected onto the magnetic channel changing locally the magnetic anisotropy energy, and consequently altering magnetic domain dynamics. Therefore it was possible to promote/impede magnetic domain nucleation and significantly change the domain wall velocity using a non-destructive and reversible procedure of ferroelectric domain writing. Non-volatile control of anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) has been demonstrated on diluted magnetic semiconductor (Ga,Mn)(As,P) thin films with integrated P(VDF-TrFE) ferroelectric gate. The field effect induced by the ferroelectric gate has shown the capability to strongly modulate the AMR behavior. Profound qualitative changes of the nature of AMR has been observed, including complete on/off switching of the crystalline component of AMR in (Ga,Mn)(As,P). ‚Ÿ A workflow for fabrication of integrated FET-type structures comprising a magnetic metal or semiconductor magnetic channel and ferroelectric polymer gate has been successfully developed. Different approaches for enhancement of ferroelectric gate operation were explored including integration of highly resistive hydrophobic interfacial layer and change of polymer composition for lower leakage. A significant increase of the non-volatile gate effect magnitude compared to the state of art was reached via improved quality of the ferroelectric/ferromagnetic interface.

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