Nanoengineering room temperature ferroelectricity into orthorhombic SmMnO3 films

Eun Mi Choi, Tuhin Maity, Ahmed Kursumovic, Ping Lu, Zenxhing Bi, Shukai Yu, Yoonsang Park, Bonan Zhu, Rui Wu, Venkatraman Gopalan, Haiyan Wang, Judith L. MacManus-Driscoll

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18 Scopus citations


Orthorhombic RMnO3 (R = rare-earth cation) compounds are type-II multiferroics induced by inversion-symmetry-breaking of spin order. They hold promise for magneto-electric devices. However, no spontaneous room-temperature ferroic property has been observed to date in orthorhombic RMnO3. Here, using 3D straining in nanocomposite films of (SmMnO3)0.5((Bi,Sm)2O3)0.5, we demonstrate room temperature ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism with TC,FM ~ 90 K, matching exactly with theoretical predictions for the induced strain levels. Large in-plane compressive and out-of-plane tensile strains (−3.6% and +4.9%, respectively) were induced by the stiff (Bi,Sm)2O3 nanopillars embedded. The room temperature electric polarization is comparable to other spin-driven ferroelectric RMnO3 films. Also, while bulk SmMnO3 is antiferromagnetic, ferromagnetism was induced in the composite films. The Mn-O bond angles and lengths determined from density functional theory explain the origin of the ferroelectricity, i.e. modification of the exchange coupling. Our structural tuning method gives a route to designing multiferroics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2207
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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