Multiferroic materials showing coupled electric, magnetic and elastic orderings provide a platform to explore complexity and new paradigms for memory and logic devices. Until now, the deterministic control of non-ferroelectric order parameters in multiferroics has been elusive. Here, we demonstrate deterministic ferroelastic switching in rhombohedral BiFeO3 by domain nucleation with a scanning probe. We are able to select among final states that have the same electrostatic energy, but differ dramatically in elastic or magnetic order, by applying voltage to the probe while it is in lateral motion. We also demonstrate the controlled creation of a ferrotoroidal order parameter. The ability to control local elastic, magnetic and torroidal order parameters with an electric field will make it possible to probe local strain and magnetic ordering, and engineer various magnetoelectric, domain-wall-based and strain-coupled devices.
Balke, N., Choudhury, S., Jesse, S., Huijben, M., Chu, Y. H., Baddorf, A. P., ... Kalinin, S. V. (2009). Deterministic control of ferroelastic switching in multiferroic materials. Nature nanotechnology, 4, 868-875. https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2009.293