Towards ferroelectrically-controlled magnetism: Magnetoelectric effect in Fe/BaTiO3 multilayers
An unexplored physical mechanism which produces a magnetoelectric effect in ferroelectric/ferromagnetic multilayers is studied based on first-principles calculations. Its origin is a change in bonding at the ferroelectric/ferromagnet interface that alters the interface magnetization when the electric polarization reverses. Using Fe/BaTiO3 multilayers as a representative model we show a sizable difference in magnetic moments of Fe and Ti atoms at the two interfaces dissimilar by the orientation of the local electric dipole moment. The predicted magnetoelectric effect is comparable in magnitude with that observed in elastically-coupled composites and opens a new direction to control magnetic properties of thin-film layered structures by electric fields.