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Charge-ordered ferromagnetic phase in La0.5Ca0.5MnO3

Abstract

Mixed-valent manganites are noted for their unusual magnetic, electronic and structural phase transitions. For example, the La1-xCaxMnO3 phase diagram1 shows that below transition temperatures in the range 100–260 K, compounds with 0.2 < x < 0.5 are ferromagnetic and metallic, whereas those with 0.5 < x < 0.9 are antiferromagnetic and charge ordered. In a narrow region around x = 0.5, these totally dissimilar ground states are thought to coexist2,3. It has been shown4 that charge order and charge disorder can coexist in the related compound, La0.25Pr0.375Ca0.375MnO3. Here we present electron microscopy data for La0.5Ca0.5MnO3 that shed light on the distribution of these coexisting phases, and uncover an additional, unexpected phase. Using electron holography and Fresnel imaging, we find micrometre-sized ferromagnetic regions spanning several grains coexisting with similar-sized regions with no local magnetization. Holography shows that the ferromagnetic regions have a local magnetization of 3.4 ± 0.2 Bohr magnetons per Mn atom (the spin-aligned value is 3.5 µB per Mn). We use electron diffraction and dark-field imaging to show that charge order exists in regions with no net magnetization and, surprisingly, can also occur in ferromagnetic regions.

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Figure 1: Curves of magnetization against temperature for various compositions of polycrystalline La1-xCaxMnO3 under an applied field of 1 T.
Figure 2: Coexistence of ferromagnetism and charge order.

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Acknowledgements

We thank R. Dunin-Borkowski for help with electron holography, D. Vowles for help in using the scanning electron microscope, A. Williams and J. P. Attfield for discussions, and A. J. Millis and P. B. Littlewood for information on the nature of charge order. This work was funded by the UK EPSRC and by the Royal Society.

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Correspondence to James C. Loudon.

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Loudon, J., Mathur, N. & Midgley, P. Charge-ordered ferromagnetic phase in La0.5Ca0.5MnO3. Nature 420, 797–800 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01299

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