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Under Pressure — A Material’s Secrets Revealed

Researchers have used pressure as a tool to study the magnetic behavior of a challenging series of materials, RVSb3, where R is a rare-earth. This series offers a way to study magnetic ordering in materials with a single, unique rare-earth site and it has been studied primarily as a function of temperature. CeVSb3 is the only compound in the family that orders ferromagnetically, that is with all its unpaired electron spins parallel, at low temperatures. Even after applying pressures up to 8 GigaPascals, about 80 times the pressure at the deepest part of the ocean, the cerium-containing material has unique magnetic properties compared to others in the series. Only by going to extreme pressures were they able to show that this material behaves as expected by theoretical models developed to better understand magnetism in rare-earth-containing materials; as pressure increases the magnetic ordering transition temperature and resistance increase, then decrease and finally a new, non-magnetic state emerges wherein the mobile electrons gain weight as other electrons lose their magnetism. Investigating the magnetic phase diagrams of this series may prove to be pivotal for our understanding of magnetism in other rare-earth containing materials.

E. Colombier, G. Knebel, B. Salce, E. D. Mun, X. Lin, S. L. Bud’ko, and P. C. Canfield “Phase Diagram of CeVSb3 under Pressure and its Dependence on Pressure Conditions” Physical Review B, 84, 064442 (2011). **Editor’s Suggestion**

Highlight Date: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2014