Electric field–induced magnetochiral dichroism in a ferroaxial crystal



T. Hayashida, K. Kimura, and T. Kimura



In a chiral medium, any mirror symmetries are broken, which induces unique physical properties represented by natural optical rotation. When electromagnetic waves propagate through a chiral medium placed in a magnetic field, the refractive index, or equivalently, the absorption encountered by the electromagnetic waves differs depending on whether it travels parallel or antiparallel to the magnetic field. Such a phenomenon is known as magnetochiral dichroism (MChD), which is the characteristic interplay between chirality and magnetism. Similar to chirality, the so-called ferroaxial order, an emergent ferroic state of crystalline materials, is also characterized by mirror symmetry breaking. In contrast to chiral materials, however, the mirror symmetry perpendicular to the crystalline principal axis is allowed in ferroaxial materials. In other words, chirality and thus phenomena unique to chirality can be induced by breaking the remaining mirror symmetry by applying an electric field. Here, we show electric control of chirality and resulting electric field–induced MChD (E-MChD) of the short-wavelength infrared region in a ferroaxial crystal, NiTiO3. We performed spectroscopy measurements of E-MChD by taking a difference of absorption coefficients obtained with and without electric and magnetic fields. As a result, E-MChD was observed around the excitation energy corresponding to Ni2+ d-d magnetic-dipole transitions. The result is nicely explained by adopting the theory of MChD concerning the pseudo-Stark splitting of the energy state. Ferroaxial materials therefore provide platforms to achieve electric control of chirality-related phenomena.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: