Local spin-coupled distortions in multiferroic hexagonal HoMnO3

T. A. Tyson, T. Wu, K. H. Ahn, S. B. Kim, S. W. Cheong

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29 Scopus citations


Local structural measurements have been performed on hexagonal HoMnO3 in order to ascertain the specific changes in bond distances, which accompany magnetic ordering transitions. The transition from the paramagnetic to the antiferromagnetic (noncollinear) phase near ∼70K is dominated by changes in the a-b plane Mn-Mn bond distances. The spin rotation transition near ∼40K involves both Mn-Mn and nearest-neighbor Ho-Mn interactions while the low-temperature transition below 10 K involves all interactions, Mn-Mn, Ho-Mn (nearest and next nearest), and Ho-Ho correlations. These changes in bond distances reveal strong spin-lattice coupling. The similarity in magnitude of the change in J (Mn-Mn) and J (Ho-Mn) enhances the system frustration. The structural changes are interpreted in terms of a model of competing spin order and local structural distortions. Density-functional calculations are used to estimate the energies associated with ionic displacements. The calculations also reveal asymmetric polarization of the charge density of Ho, O3, and O4 sites along the c axis in the ferroelectric phase. This polarization facilitates coupling between Ho atoms on neighboring planes normal to the c axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number054101
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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