Magnetoelectric effect and phase transitions in CuO in external magnetic fields

Zhaosheng Wang, Navid Qureshi, Shadi Yasin, Alexander Mukhin, Eric Ressouche, Sergei Zherlitsyn, Yurii Skourski, Julian Geshev, Vsevolod Ivanov, Marin Gospodinov & Vassil Skumryev.



Apart from being so far the only known binary multiferroic compound, CuO has a much higher transition temperature into the multiferroic state, 230 K, than any other known material in which the electric polarization is induced by spontaneous magnetic order, typically lower than 100 K. Although the magnetically induced ferroelectricity of CuO is firmly established, no magnetoelectric effect has been observed so far as direct crosstalk between bulk magnetization and electric polarization counterparts. Here we demonstrate that high magnetic fields of ≈50 T are able to suppress the helical modulation of the spins in the multiferroic phase and dramatically affect the electric polarization. Furthermore, just below the spontaneous transition from commensurate (paraelectric) to incommensurate (ferroelectric) structures at 213 K, even modest magnetic fields induce a transition into the incommensurate structure and then suppress it at higher field. Thus, remarkable hidden magnetoelectric features are uncovered, establishing CuO as prototype multiferroic with abundance of competitive magnetic interactions.