Can BFO bring us closer to energy-efficient devices?

A paper by P. Dufour et al powered by ProteusQ and Quantilever MX was recently published in Nano Letters. The study delves into engineering bismuth ferrite thin films to finetune their multiferroicity and take a further step towards applications-ready spintronics devices.

We congratulate Dr. Vincent Garcia and his collaborators from Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS- Thales, L2C Université de Montpellier, ETH Zurich, Synchrotron SOLEIL, CEA, and Université d’Evry for their results.

The key findings

Multiferroics are materials where their electric and magnetic properties are strongly coupled. In bismuth ferrite (BFO), in particular, ferroelectric and antiferromagnetic states are intertwined. This means that we can control the magnetic properties of the material using electric fields, making BFO a good candidate for low-power energy-efficient devices.

Researchers were able to leverage strain effects due to specific substrates to stabilize a single ferroelectric domain with a single spin cycloid in BFO thin films. In such a single domain configuration, the collaborators established the BFO-thickness limit for the onset of multiferroicity. This work unveils novel aspects that are key ingredients towards electrically controlled antiferromagnetic spintronics.

To learn more about the technical aspects of the work, head over to our dedicated application page or directly access the full article in Nano Letters.

The role of Scanning NV Magnetometry

The antiferromagnetic order in bismuth ferrite films usually manifests in intricate patterns with multiple spin cycloids oriented in different directions. The challenges to unveil such complex spin textures are on one hand their weak magnetic signals and on the other their spatial arrangement. Only a Scanning NV Magnetometer such as ProteusQ combined with the Quantilever MX could have the required sensitivity and spatial resolution to characterize this typical antiferromagnetic order.

What users say about ProteusQ?

Dr. Vincent Garcia, who led the collaboration towards the publication, shared with us the experience with ProteusQ since the installation at the Unité Mixte de Physique. Their instrument was among the first quantum microscopes ever installed.

It’s been 3 years since we got the ProteusQ from Qnami installed in our lab. With it, we routinely investigate the complex antiferromagnetic spin textures of our BiFeO3 thin and ultrathin films elaborated by pulsed laser deposition. It enables us to easily relocate areas where artificial ferroelectric domains were defined by piezoresponse force microscopy. Thanks to this wonderful tool, we were recently able to identify the critical role of anisotropic strain in (111)-oriented films on the stabilization of a single-domain antiferromagnetic spin cycloid.

Dr. Vincent Garcia – CNRS-Thales
Dr. Vincent Garcia, group leader at CNRS-Thales

Qnami ProteusQ

Qnami ProteusQ - thq quantum microscope to probe magnetic properties of your materials at the nanoscale

ProteusQ is a complete quantum microscope system. It is the first scanning NV (nitrogen-vacancy) microscope for the analysis of magnetic materials at the nanoscale. The system allows user to detect extremely small magnetic fields generated from a wide range of materials, even antiferromagnets.  

Are you interested in exploring how ProteusQ can help you prove your hypotheses and push the frontiers of science? If you are curious, then contact our Sales Managers, Dr. Joerg Lenz and Benjamin Holmes (

Will your application be the next one?

Nanoscale spin textures in bismuth ferrite measured with Qnami ProteusQ

Scanning NV Magnetometry is unlocking more and more applications in the field of nanoscale magnetism. Can yours be the next one? Let’s find out together. Drop an email to our Application Scientist Dr. Peter Rickhaus (


We would be happy to talk with you, and learn more about the challenges you face when it comes to measuring magnetic properties of your sample. Are you interested in discussing with us about your application? Let’s have a chat.

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