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  1. Abstract

    Actinide materials exhibit strong spin–lattice coupling and electronic correlations, and are predicted to host new emerging ground states. One example is piezomagnetism and magneto-elastic memory effect in the antiferromagnetic Mott-Hubbard insulator uranium dioxide, though its microscopic nature is under debate. Here, we report X-ray diffraction studies of oriented uranium dioxide crystals under strong pulsed magnetic fields. In the antiferromagnetic state a [888] Bragg diffraction peak follows the bulk magnetostriction that expands under magnetic fields. Upon reversal of the field the expansion turns to contraction, before the [888] peak follows the switching effect and piezomagnetic ‘butterfly’ behaviour, characteristic of two structures connected by time reversal symmetry. An unexpected splitting of the [888] peak is observed, indicating the simultaneous presence of time-reversed domains of the 3-k structure and a complex magnetic-field-induced evolution of the microstructure. These findings open the door for a microscopic understanding of the piezomagnetism and magnetic coupling across strong magneto-elastic interactions.

  2. Abstract

    Strongly correlated electronic systems can harbor a rich variety of quantum spin states. Understanding and controlling such spin states in quantum materials is of great current interest. Focusing on the simple binary system UPt3with ultrasound (US) as a probe we identify clear signatures in field sweeps demarkating new high field spin phases. Magnetostriction (MS) measurements performed up to 65 T also show signatures at the same fields confirming these phase transitions. At the very lowest temperatures (<200 mK) we also observe magneto-acoustic quantum oscillations which forθ = 90° (B||c-axis) and vicinity abruptly become very strong in the 24.8–30 T range. High resolution magnetization measurements for this same angle reveal a continuous variation of the magnetization implying the subtle nature of the implied transitions. With B rotated away from the c-axis, the US signatures occur at nearly the same field. These transitions merge with the separate sequence of the well known metamagnetic transition which commences at 20 T forθ = 0° but moves to higher fields as 1/cosθ. This merge, suggesting a tricritical behavior, occurs atθ ≈ 51° from the ab-plane. This is an unique off-symmetry angle where the length change along the c-axis is precisely zero due to the anisotropic nature of MS in UPt3formore »all magnetic field values.

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  3. Abstract

    Actinide materials have various applications that range from nuclear energy to quantum computing. Most current efforts have focused on bulk actinide materials. Tuning functional properties by using strain engineering in epitaxial thin films is largely lacking. Using uranium dioxide (UO2) as a model system, in this work, the authors explore strain engineering in actinide epitaxial thin films and investigate the origin of induced ferromagnetism in an antiferromagnet UO2. It is found that UO2+xthin films are hypostoichiometric (x<0) with in‐plane tensile strain, while they are hyperstoichiometric (x>0) with in‐plane compressive strain. Different from strain engineering in non‐actinide oxide thin films, the epitaxial strain in UO2is accommodated by point defects such as vacancies and interstitials due to the low formation energy. Both epitaxial strain and strain relaxation induced point defects such as oxygen/uranium vacancies and oxygen/uranium interstitials can distort magnetic structure and result in magnetic moments. This work reveals the correlation among strain, point defects and ferromagnetism in strain engineered UO2+xthin films and the results offer new opportunities to understand the influence of coupled order parameters on the emergent properties of many other actinide thin films.