Measurement and modeling of hyperfine properties in ferroic materials


This thesis presents the results of perturbed angular correlation (PAC) experiments , an experimental technique which measures the hyperfine interaction at probes (radioactive ions implanted in the materials to study), from which one infers local information on an atomic scale. Furthermore, ab initio calculations using density functional theory electronic obtain results that directly complement the experiments, and are also used for theoretical research. These methods were applied in two families of materials. The manganites, with the possible existence of magnetic, charge, orbital and ferroelectric orders, are of fundamental and technological interest. The experimental results are obtained in the alkaline-earth manganites (Ca, Ba, Sr), with special interest due to the structural variety of possible polymorphs. With probes of Cd and In the stability of the probe and its location in a wide temperature range is established and a comparison with calculations allows the physical interpretation of the results. Calculations of hyperfine properties in rare-earth manganites are also presented. The second type of materials in which hyperfine properties were studied are the Manganese pnictides: MnAs, MnSb, and MnBi, compounds in which magnetism is fundamental. The experimental results obtained mainly consider the MnAs compound, whose magneto-structural transition is of great interest. The transition is analyzed in detail with the local resolution characteristic of the technique, obtaining information of the character of the transition also with complementary, more conventional techniques. The last work in this thesis uses only the first principles calculations, continuing the theme of the hyperfine interactions, but this time with respect to ferroelectrics. Several transition metal oxides with perovskite or distorted structures are considered. The electric field gradient which exists due to the quadrupole interaction in nuclei is related to the spontaneous electric polarization, the main quantity measured in ferroelectrics. This study provides a fundamental theoretical basis for previous empirical studies, suggesting new directions for research in ferroelectrics and multiferroics using techniques which measure the electric field gradient.


J. N. Gonçalves

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V. S. Amaral, J. G. Correia

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