Multiferroics have become the focus of exciting research in recent years. The reason being is that this newly discovered class of materials have unusual properties that are not found in other materials.
What are Multiferroics?
Multiferroics are magneto electricmaterials with both ferro/antiferromagnetic and ferroelectric properties, the occurrence of these two properties simultaneously is unique to multiferroics, making them of special interest to researchers.
This kind of material was first discovered back in the 1960s, but due to their small polarization values, they did not induce much excitement for researching their potential capabilities and applications.
However, as technology has developed, we are becoming increasingly interested in goals such as the miniaturization of devices, increasing storage capacities of memories, creating storage and data retrieval processes that are faster and more efficient, and it is these technology goals that have fuelled the recent resurgence in interest in multiferroics.
Researchers have already been able to develop their use in hydrogen storage, as well as within the design of advanced optical elements. With improvements to research facilities, such as the development of powerful computational tools, research techniques, like state-of-the-art characterization techniques, and theoretical understanding of multiferroics, scientists have been able to fully grasp the potential offered by multiferroics.
Future Applications of Multiferroics
In recent years research has been able to highlight two key areas of interest for future applications of multiferroics, and with the technology at their disposal, they are devising ways to overcome obstacles and turn theory into reality.
Multiferroics exploded back onto the scene about a decade ago when two of the most accomplished scientists at Florida State University discovered a unique family of crystalline minerals, also known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). It turned out that they had come across 4 rare multiferroics at the same time.
Their initial research had the aim of developing the use of multiferroics in computer storage applications. But their research has extended this application, and has opened the door to numerous potential applications for the materials.
The first major focus for future applications of multiferroics is to use them to create high-powered computer memories and other data storage devices. Currently, scientists are exploring the ways that these materials can be used to create a greater capacity of information storage in these devices.
It is believed that multiferroics would allow us to create smaller and faster components to store and transmit data, as well as increasing the security of data transfer by being able to split it over two mediums, resulting in a safer and stronger encryption. Although the exact methodology to achieve this has yet to be uncovered, research is expected to generate applications of data storage and transference that would be of benefit to the aeronautics industry and the military, and eventually for the workplace and home.
Reducing Environmental Impact
The second focus will be on how multiferroics can be used to reduce the environmental impact of current technological devices. Globally, there is an increasing focus to become aware of and responsible for our environmental impact, and this is relevant to all industries. Currently, high-tech devices are still guilty of using materials that are toxic, such as lead which is a neurotoxin.
Fortunately, the four new multiferroic crystals that were discovered at the University of California, have all proven to be potential replacements for the toxic metals currently in use. Through substituting these harmful substances we can reduce the amount that ends up in landfills, and ultimately the amount ending up in our water and in our bodies.
These are just two main lines of enquiry to developing future applications of multiferriocs, but the full comprehension of its capabilities is yet to be uncovered. Further to these two focuses, we can expect more areas of research developing as we discover more about this rare material.