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Sci Adv. 2019 Mar 29;5(3):eaav5050. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aav5050. eCollection 2019 Mar.

Nanoscale ferroelastic twins formed in strained LaCoO3 films.

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA.
Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics and Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.
Center of Materials Science and Optoelectronics Engineering, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA.
Eyring Materials Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.
NIST Center for Neutron Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA.
Institute for Physics, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale) 06120, Germany.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.


The coexistence and coupling of ferroelasticity and magnetic ordering in a single material offers a great opportunity to realize novel devices with multiple tuning knobs. Complex oxides are a particularly promising class of materials to find multiferroic interactions due to their rich phase diagrams, and are sensitive to external perturbations. Still, there are very few examples of these systems. Here, we report the observation of twin domains in ferroelastic LaCoO3 epitaxial films and their geometric control of structural symmetry intimately linked to the material's electronic and magnetic states. A unidirectional structural modulation is achieved by selective choice of substrates having twofold rotational symmetry. This modulation perturbs the crystal field-splitting energy, leading to unexpected in-plane anisotropy of orbital configuration and magnetization. These findings demonstrate the use of structural modulation to control multiferroic interactions and may enable a great potential for stimulation of exotic phenomena through artificial domain engineering.

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