Cycloidal spin orders are common in multiferroics. One of the prototypical examples is BiFeO3 (BFO) which shows a large polarization and a cycloidal antiferromagnetic (AFM) order at room temperature. Here, we employ Landau theory and phase-field simulations to analyze the coupled switching dynamics of polarization and cycloidal AFM orders in BFO. We identify 14 types of transitional spin structures between two cycloids and nine electric-field-induced spin switching paths. We demonstrate the electric-field-induced rotation of wave vectors of the cycloidal spins and discover two types of cycloidal spin switching dynamics: fast local spin flips and slow rotation of wave vectors. Also, we construct roadmaps to achieve the switching between any two spin cycloids through multistep applications of electric fields. This paper provides a theoretical framework for the phenomenological description of spin cycloids and a fundamental understanding of the switching mechanisms to achieve electrical control of magnetic orders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics