Multiferroicity in atomic van der Waals heterostructures

Cheng Gong, Eun Mi Kim, Yuan Wang, Geunsik Lee, Xiang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations


Materials that are simultaneously ferromagnetic and ferroelectric – multiferroics – promise the control of disparate ferroic orders, leading to technological advances in microwave magnetoelectric applications and next generation of spintronics. Single-phase multiferroics are challenged by the opposite d-orbital occupations imposed by the two ferroics, and heterogeneous nanocomposite multiferroics demand ingredients’ structural compatibility with the resultant multiferroicity exclusively at inter-materials boundaries. Here we propose the two-dimensional heterostructure multiferroics by stacking up atomic layers of ferromagnetic Cr2Ge2Te6 and ferroelectric In2Se3, thereby leading to all-atomic multiferroicity. Through first-principles density functional theory calculations, we find as In2Se3 reverses its polarization, the magnetism of Cr2Ge2Te6 is switched, and correspondingly In2Se3 becomes a switchable magnetic semiconductor due to proximity effect. This unprecedented multiferroic duality (i.e., switchable ferromagnet and switchable magnetic semiconductor) enables both layers for logic applications. Van der Waals heterostructure multiferroics open the door for exploring the low-dimensional magnetoelectric physics and spintronic applications based on artificial superlattices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 14 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2016-CRG5- 2996
Acknowledgements: C.G., Y.W., and X.Z. acknowledge the support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division under contract no. DE-AC02-05-CH11231 within the van der Waals Heterostructures program
(KCWF16) for the conceptual development and preliminary calculations of 2D heterostructure multiferroics. The support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant 1753380 for the calculation and analysis of 2D magnets and the King Abdulah
University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award OSR-2016-CRG5- 2996 for the calculation and analysis of 2D ferroelectrics was also acknowledged. G.L. acknowledges the support by the National Research Foundation of Korea (Basic Science Research Program: 2018R1D1A1B07045983) for the systematic computational studies of 2D heterostructure multiferroics. Computation was supported by KISTI (KSC-2018-CRE-0048).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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