Emergent states in transition metal oxides
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Transition metal oxides adopt a wide variety of crystal structures and display a diverse range of physical phenomena from Mott insulating states to electron-nematics to unconventional superconductivity. Detailed understanding of these states and how they may be manipulated by structural modifications requires both precise structural knowledge and in-depth physical property measurements using as many techniques over as wide a range of phase space as possible. In the work described in this thesis a range of transition metal oxides were studied using high-resolution powder neutron diffraction and detailed low-temperature physical property measurements. The quaternary barium orthotellurates Ba₂NiTeO₆, Ba₂CuTeO₆ and Ba₂ZnTeO₆ belong to an almost unstudied family of materials. The development of procedures for synthesizing large single crystals has facilitated the investigation of interesting new anisotropic magnetic states in the Cu and Ni systems and the existence of a possible structural phase transition in the Zn-based compound. YMnO₃ is a multiferroic with improper ferrielectricity. The study of the high-temperature structural phases described in this thesis has led to the identification both of the transition path to the ferrielectric state and the identification of an isostructural phase transition within the ferrielectric phase. BiFe₀.₇Mn₀.₃O₃ is also a multiferroic material but with proper ferroelectricity. The investigation of the structural phases of this compound have provided confirmation of the high-temperature phases with the reassignment of the symmetry of the highest-temperature phase which is intriguingly different to that of the unsubstituted material. Finally, an investigation of the electronic structures of the high conductivity delafossites PdCoO₂ and PdCrO₂ using micro-cantilever torque magnetometry measurements of quantum oscillations is described. This has resolved the warping of the Fermi surface of PdCoO₂ and given insights into the complicated Fermi surface of the itinerant antiferromagnet PdCrO₂.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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