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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Feb 17;108(7):077204. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Coupling of magnetic and ferroelectric hysteresis by a multicomponent magnetic structure in Mn2GeO4.

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Laboratory for Neutron Scattering, Paul Scherrer Institut, CH 5232 Villigen, Switzerland.


The olivine compound Mn(2)GeO(4) is shown to feature both a ferroelectric polarization and a ferromagnetic magnetization that are directly coupled and point along the same direction. We show that a spin spiral generates ferroelectricity, and a canted commensurate order leads to weak ferromagnetism. Symmetry suggests that the direct coupling between the ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity is mediated by Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interactions that exist only in the ferroelectric phase, controlling both the sense of the spiral rotation and the canting of the commensurate structure. Our study demonstrates how multicomponent magnetic structures found in magnetically frustrated materials like Mn(2)GeO(4) provide a new route towards functional materials that exhibit coupled ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity.

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