Novel mixed precursor approach to prepare multiferroic nanocomposites with enhanced interfacial coupling
In the present work, we report the preparation of multiferroic PbZr0.52Ti0.48O3 (PZT)/CoFe2O4 (CFO) nanocomposites using a new synthesis technique that can maximize the surface area of contact, and hence, the interfacial coupling between the ferroelectric (PZT) and ferrimagnetic (CFO) phases. The samples have been characterized using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and the physical (magnetic and dielectric) properties have been investigated. XRD confirms the presence of the desired PZT and CFO phases in the samples without any undesired secondary phases. We also observe a reduction in the particle size of CFO in the nanocomposites as evidenced by a line broadening of the XRD reflections corresponding to the pure CFO phase. The nanocomposites show hysteresis loops and ferrimagnetic-like behaviors in their M vs H curves at room temperature, even for samples with very low fraction of the CFO phase. The coercivity of the nanocomposites is marginally larger compared to that of pure CFO, which can be due to the change in magnetic anisotropy of the CFO phase due to its reduced particle size in the nanocomposites. Room temperature polarization versus electric field measurements show a significant increase in the coercive field after the incorporation of CFO inside the PZT matrix. This work illustrates a simple, cost-effective synthesis technique that can be used to prepare nanocomposites of functional materials with desired room temperature functionalities and enhanced interfacial coupling between the two phases.