The recent demand of multifunctional materials and devices for advanced applications in energy conversion and data storage resulted into a revival of multiferroics, that is, materials characterized by the coexistence of ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity. Despite intense efforts made in the past decade, single-phase room temperature multiferroics are yet to be discovered/fabricated. Nanostructured ferroic materials could potentially exhibit multiferroism since a high fraction of their atoms/ions are superficial, thereby altering significantly the properties of the bulk phase. Alternately, a magnetic order can be induced into ferroelectric materials upon aliovalent doping with magnetic ions. Here, we report on the synthesis of aggregate-free single-phase transition-metal-doped BaTiO3 quasi-monodisperse cuboidal nanocrystals (NC) which exhibit multiferroic properties at room temperature and can be suitable for applications in data storage. The proposed synthetic route allows the inclusion of a high concentration of magnetic ions such as Mn+ (M = Cr, Mn, Fe, Co) up to a nominal concentration of 4% without the formation of any secondary phase. The size of the nanocrystals was controlled in a wide range from ?15 up to ?70 nm by varying the reaction time from 48 to 144 h. The presence of unpaired electrons and their magnetic ordering have been probed by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy (EPR), and a vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM). Likewise, an acentric structure, associated with the existence of a dielectric polarization, was observed by lattice dynamics analysis and piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM). These results show that high-quality titanium-containing perovskite nanocrystals which display multiferroic properties at room temperature can be fabricated via soft solution-based synthetic routes, and the properties of these materials can be modulated by changing the size of the nanocrystals and the concentration of the dopant thereby opening the door to the design and study of single-phase multiferroic materials.
- colloidal nanocrystals
- magnetic ordering
- multiferroic properties
- piezoresponse force microscopy
- transition-metal-doped titanium-containing perovskites