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Identification of microscopic spin-polarization coupling in the ferroelectric phase of magnetoelectric multiferroic CuFe$$_{1-x}$$Al$$_x$$O$$_2$$

Nakajima, Taro*; Mitsuda, Setsuo*; Inami, Toshiya; Terada, Noriki*; Osumi, Hiroyuki*; Prokes, K.*; Podlesnyak, A.*

We have performed synchrotron X-ray and neutron diffraction measurements on magnetoelectric multiferroic CuFe$$_{1-x}$$Al$$_x$$O$$_2$$ (x=0.0155), which has a proper helical magnetic structure with incommensurate propagation wave vector in the ferroelectric phase. The present measurements revealed that the ferroelectric phase is accompanied by lattice modulation with a wave number 2$$q$$, where $$q$$ is the magnetic modulation wave number. We have calculated the Fourier spectrum of the spatial modulations in the local electric polarization using a microscopic model proposed by T. Arima. Comparing the experimental results with the calculation results, we found that the origin of the 2$$q$$-lattice modulation is the variation in the metal-ligand hybridization between the Fe$$^{3+}$$ ions and O$$^{2-}$$ ions. Combining the present results with the results of a previous polarized neutron diffraction study, we conclude that the microscopic origin of the ferroelectricity in CuFe$$_{1-x}$$Al$$_x$$O$$_2$$ is the variation in the metal-ligand hybridization with spin-orbit coupling.

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Category:Materials Science, Multidisciplinary

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