Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A Glassy Look for Manganites


Berkeley Lab Researchers at the ALS Observe Glass-like Behavior in the Electron-Spins of PCMO Crystals

Manganites – compounds of manganese oxides – show great promise as “go-to” materials for future electronic devices because of their ability to instantly switch from an electrical insulator to a conductor under a wide variety of external stimuli, including magnetic fields, photo-excitations and vibrational excitations. 

Ultrafast pulses of x-rays from Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source revealed a glass-like re-ordering of electron-spin states in PCMO crystals as samples recovered from a photo-excited conductor state back to the insulator state. In this schematic, circles and lobes show manganese sites and orbitals with pink and blue colors representing opposite spin orientations

This ultrafast switching arises from the many different ways in which the electrons and electron-spins in a manganite may organize or re-organize in response to such external stimuli. Understanding the physics behind these responses is crucial for the future development of manganites.

In a recent study of praseodymium calcium manganite (PCMO) crystals, a model manganite system, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) discovered that under photo-stimulation the insulator/conductor switching, which depends primarily on charge-ordering, may be ultra-fast, but the re-ordering of electron-spin, upon which magnetic properties depend, is not. In fact, the re-ordering of spin in these materials actually exhibits a glass-like state, in which the restoration of crystalline order is substantially delayed.

“The electron-spins get trapped in a frustrated, disordered state, like cars trying to merge without road signs or lane markers, and can take multiple seconds, a comparatively very long time, to sort themselves out,” says Robert Schoenlein of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, one of the leaders of this study. “This separation of charge-ordering behavior from spin-ordering behavior may point the way to new approaches to manipulating spin effects for applications in switching and memory devices.”

Working at beamline 6.0.2 of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), Schoenlein and a team that included Shuyun Zhou and  Yi-De Chuang probed spin-ordering in PCMO crystals using a technique called time-resolved resonant soft x-ray scattering spectroscopy (TR-RSXS). In this technique, they pelted PCMO samples with 70 picosecond (trillionths of a second) pulses of x-rays to capture a series of snapshots that revealed how electron-spin ordering is re-established as the samples recover from a photo-excited conductor state back to the insulator state.

“We found that the glass-like behavior of the electron-spins arise from the metastable state created by photo-excitation, a state characterized by spin disordered metallic droplets within the larger charge- and spin-ordered insulating domains,” says ALS staff scientist Chuang. “Comparison with time-resolved resistivity measurements suggests that the collapse of spin ordering is correlated with the insulator-to-metal transition, but the recovery of the insulating phase does not depend on the re-establishment of the spin ordering.”

Adds Zhou, “Our work provides a new perspective for revealing the fascinating physics hidden in the recovery dynamics of electronic ordering in correlated electron materials after transient photo-excitation, a prominent method for ultrafast manipulation of material properties. Since other transition metal oxides that exhibit intriguing emergent phenomena, such as the high-temperature superconducting cuprates, also have rich competing phases involving dynamic electronic orderings, we should be able to extend similar TR-RSXS studies to those systems as well.”

A paper reporting this research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. The paper is entitled “Glass-like recovery of antiferromagnetic spin ordering in a photo-excited manganite Pr0.7Ca0.3MnO3.” Schoenlein, Chuang and Zhou are the corresponding authors.

Lynn Yarris | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Laboratory conductor crystalline crystals electrons materials photo-excitation physics transition

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy
07.10.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie

nachricht Laser-wielding physicists seize control of atoms' behavior
06.10.2015 | University of Chicago

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

Im Focus: High-speed march through a layer of graphene

In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.

Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

IP-cores for real-time signal processing in digital communication systems

07.10.2015 | Information Technology

Research initiative presents new traffic technologies for cities

07.10.2015 | Transportation and Logistics

Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

07.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>