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Rare coupling of magnetic and electric properties in a single material


Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have observed a new way that magnetic and electric properties — which have a long history of ignoring and counteracting each other — can coexist in a special class of metals known as multiferroics, materials where the magnetic polarity can be changed by an electric field. Using extremely bright beams of X-rays at Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source to examine the electronic structure of a particular metal oxide made of yttrium, manganese and oxygen, the team determined that the magnetic-electric coupling is caused by the outer cloud of electrons surrounding the atom, a result theoretically predicted but never experimentally observed. Their results are published in Physical Review Letters. more

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