Magnetic interactions in equi-atomic rare-earth intermetallic alloys RScGe (R = Ce, Pr, Nd and Gd) studied by time differential perturbed angular correlation spectroscopy and ab initio calculations

S N Mishra
Journal of Physics. Condensed Matter: An Institute of Physics Journal 2009 March 18, 21 (11): 115601
Applying the time differential perturbed angular correlation (TDPAC) technique we have measured electric and magnetic hyperfine fields of the (111)Cd impurity in equi-atomic rare-earth intermetallic alloys RScGe (R = Ce, Pr and Gd) showing antiferro- and ferromagnetism with unusually high ordering temperatures. The Cd nuclei occupying the Sc site show high magnetic hyperfine fields with saturation values B(hf)(0) = 21 kG, 45 kG and 189 kG in CeScGe, PrScGe and GdScGe, respectively. By comparing the results with the hyperfine field data of Cd in rare-earth metals and estimations from the RKKY model, we find evidence for the presence of additional spin density at the probe nucleus, possibly due to spin polarization of Sc d band electrons. The principal electric field gradient component V(zz) in CeScGe, PrScGe and GdScGe has been determined to be 5.3 × 10(21) V m(-2), 5.5 × 10(21) V m(-2) and 5.6 × 10(21) V m(-2), respectively. Supplementing the experimental measurements, we have carried out ab initio calculations for pure and Cd-doped RScGe compounds with R = Ce, Pr, Nd and Gd using the full potential linearized augmented plane wave (FLAPW) method based on density functional theory (DFT). From the total energies calculated with and without spin polarization we find ferrimagnetic ground states for CeScGe and PrScGe while NdScGe and GdScGe are ferromagnetic. In addition, we find a sizable magnetic moment at the Sc site, increasing from ≈0.10 μ(B) in CeScGe to ≈0.3 μ(B) in GdScGe, confirming the spin polarization of Sc d band electrons. The calculated electric field gradient and magnetic hyperfine fields of the Cd impurity closely agree with the experimental values. We believe spin polarization of Sc 3d band electrons, strongly hybridized with spin polarized 5d band electrons of the rare-earth, enables a long range Ruderman-Kittel-Kasuya-Yosida (RKKY) interaction between RE 4f moments which in turn leads to high magnetic ordering temperatures in RScGe compounds.

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