Magnetic Field-Induced Ferroelectric Switching in Multiferroic Aurivillius Phase Thin Films at Room Temperature


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Single-phase multiferroic materials are of considerable interest for future memory and sensing applications. Thin films of Aurivillius phase Bi7Ti3Fe3O21 and Bi6Ti2.8Fe1.52Mn0.68O18 (possessing six and five perovskite units per half-cell, respectively) have been prepared by chemical solution deposition on c-plane sapphire. Superconducting quantum interference device magnetometry reveal Bi7Ti3Fe3O21 to be antiferromagnetic (TN = 190 K) and weakly ferromagnetic below 35 K, however, Bi6Ti2.8Fe1.52Mn0.68O18 gives a distinct room-temperature in-plane ferromagnetic signature (Ms = 0.74 emu/g, μ0Hc =7 mT). Microstructural analysis, coupled with the use of a statistical analysis of the data, allows us to conclude that ferromagnetism does not originate from second phase inclusions, with a confidence level of 99.5%. Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) demonstrates room-temperature ferroelectricity in both films, whereas PFM observations on Bi6Ti2.8Fe1.52Mn0.68O18 show Aurivillius grains undergo ferroelectric domain polarization switching induced by an applied magnetic field. Here, we show for the first time that Bi6Ti2.8Fe1.52Mn0.68O18 thin films are both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic and, demonstrate magnetic field-induced switching of ferroelectric polarization in individual Aurivillius phase grains at room temperature.