Neutron, X-ray, and optical studies of multiferroic materials

Authors: Alexander J. Hearmon (University of Oxford)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Thesis

State: Published (Approved)
Published: September 2013

Abstract: Developing a greater understanding of multiferroic materials, particularly those in which a strong coupling is exhibited between magnetic and electrical orderings, is of great importance if potential applications are to be realised. This thesis reports new experimental findings on several multiferroics using the techniques of X-ray and neutron diffraction together with nonlinear optical experiments. Spherical neutron polarimetry measurements on RbFe(MoO)2 show how this system's chiral magnetic structure can be controlled by an external electric field. Consideration is given to the axial distortion that the crystal structure makes, and the effect that this has on the stabilised magnetic structures. A ferroaxial coupling is invoked to explain, from a symmetry point of view, the spin driven multiferroicity in this proper screw system. The charge ordering in YbFe2O4 is examined by a detailed imaging of reciprocal space measured by elastic X-ray diffraction. Continuous helices of scattering are observed above the three-dimensional ordering transition temperature, whereas the intensity is concentrated onto separated maxima below this. The low temperature data are modelled using a simple oxygen displacement pattern, generalised to an incommensurate structure. The observed incommensurability implies that YbFe2O4 cannot be truly ferroelectric. The low field magnetic structures of a Y-type hexaferrite Ba0.5Sr1.5Zn2Fe12O22 are observed in a resonant soft X-ray diffraction study. In zero field the system is helimagnetic, and with small applied fields peaks corresponding to a new phase appear. Energy calculations are used to suggest a suitable magnetic structure for the new phase and to show how this relates to the known commensurate phases that are present in low fields. Finally, an experimental setup designed to measure second harmonic generation from non-centrosymmetric crystals is presented, along with static measurements on the multiferroic system MnWO4. An optical pump / second harmonic probe study is then undertaken, with the result that a pump induced enhancement in the efficiency of the second harmonic generation is observed.

Subject Areas: Physics, Materials

Instruments: I10-Beamline for Advanced Dichroism - scattering , I19-Small Molecule Single Crystal Diffraction

Added On: 10/10/2017 11:43

Discipline Tags:

Quantum Materials Multiferroics Physics Magnetism Materials Science

Technical Tags:

Diffraction Scattering Single Crystal X-ray Diffraction (SXRD) Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering (RSXS)