Muon spin spectroscopy

Nature Reviews Methods Primers 2:1 (2022)

Authors:

AD Hillier, SJ Blundell, I McKenzie, I Umegaki, L Shu, JA Wright, T Prokscha, F Bert, K Shimomura, A Berlie, H Alberto, I Watanabe

Abstract:

Muons are particles with a spin of ½ that can be implanted into a wide range of condensed matter materials to act as a local probe of the surrounding atomic environment. Measurement of the muon’s precession and relaxation provides an insight into how it interacts with its local environment. From this, unique information is obtained about the static and dynamic properties of the material of interest. This has enabled muon spin spectroscopy, more commonly known as muon spin rotation/relaxation/resonance (μSR), to develop into a powerful tool to investigate material properties such as fundamental magnetism, superconductivity and functional materials. Alongside this, μSR may be used to study, for example, energy storage materials, ionic diffusion in potential batteries, the dynamics of soft matter, free radical chemistry, reaction kinetics, semiconductors, advanced manufacturing and cultural artefacts. This Primer is intended as an introductory article and introduces the μSR technique, the typical results obtained and some recent advances across various fields. Data reproducibility and limitations are also discussed, before highlighting promising future developments.

A.C. susceptibility as a probe of low-frequency magnetic dynamics

ArXiv 2203.00989 (2022)

Authors:

CV Topping, SJ Blundell

Probing the magnetic polaron state in the ferromagnetic semiconductor HgCr2Se4 with muon-spin spectroscopy and resistance-fluctuation measurements

Physical Review B 105:6 (2022)

Authors:

M Mitschek, Tj Hicken, S Yang, Mn Wilson, Fl Pratt, C Wang, Sj Blundell, Z Li, Y Li, T Lancaster, J Müller

Abstract:

Combined resistance noise and muon-spin relaxation (μSR) measurements of the ferromagnetic semiconductor HgCr2Se4 suggest a degree of magnetoelectric coupling and provide evidence for the existence of isolated magnetic polarons. These form at elevated temperatures and undergo a percolation transition with a drastic enhancement of the low-frequency 1/f-type charge fluctuations at the insulator-to-metal transition at ∼95-98K in the vicinity of the magnetic ordering temperature TC∼105-107K. Upon approaching the percolation threshold from above, the strikingly unusual dynamics of a distinct two-level fluctuator superimposed on the 1/f noise can be described by a slowing down of the dynamics of a nanoscale magnetic cluster, a magnetic polaron, when taking into account an effective radius of the polaron depending on the spin correlation length. Coinciding temperature scales found in μSR and noise measurements suggest changes in the magnetic dynamics over a wide range of frequencies and are consistent with the existence of large polarized and domain-wall-like regions at low temperatures, that result from the freezing of spin dynamics at the magnetic polaron percolation transition.

Anomalous magnetic exchange in a dimerized quantum magnet composed of unlike spin species

PHYSICAL REVIEW B 104:21 (2021) ARTN 214435

Authors:

Spm Curley, Bm Huddart, D Kamenskyi, Mj Coak, Rc Williams, S Ghannadzadeh, A Schneider, S Okubo, T Sakurai, H Ohta, Jp Tidey, D Graf, Sj Clark, Sj Blundell, Fl Pratt, Mtf Telling, T Lancaster, Jl Manson, Pa Goddard

Abstract:

We present here a study of the magnetic properties of the antiferromagnetic dimer material CuVOF4(H2O)6·H2O, in which the dimer unit is composed of two different S=1/2 species, Cu(II) and V(IV). An applied magnetic field of μ0Hc1=13.1(1) T is found to close the singlet-triplet energy gap, the magnitude of which is governed by the antiferromagnetic intradimer J0≈21 K, and interdimer J′≈1 K, exchange energies, determined from magnetometry and electron-spin resonance measurements. The results of density functional theory (DFT) calculations are consistent with the experimental results. The DFT calculations predict antiferromagnetic coupling along all nearest-neighbor bonds, with the magnetic ground state comprising spins of different species aligning antiparallel to one another, while spins of the same species are aligned parallel. The magnetism in this system cannot be accurately described by the overlap between localized V orbitals and magnetic Cu orbitals lying in the Jahn-Teller (JT) plane, with a tight-binding model based on such a set of orbitals incorrectly predicting that interdimer exchange should be dominant. DFT calculations indicate significant spin density on the bridging oxide, suggesting instead an unusual mechanism in which intradimer exchange is mediated through the O atom on the Cu(II) JT axis.

Muon sites in PbF2 and YF3: Decohering environments and the role of anion Frenkel defects

PHYSICAL REVIEW B 104:22 (2021) ARTN L220409

Authors:

Jm Wilkinson, Fl Pratt, T Lancaster, Pj Baker, Sj Blundell

Abstract:

Muons implanted into ionic fluorides often lead to a so-called F–μ–F state, in which the time evolution of the muon spin contains information about the geometry and nature of the muon site. Nuclei more distant from the muon than the two nearest-neighbor fluorine ions result in decoherence of the F–μ–F system, and this can yield additional quantitative information about the state of the muon. We demonstrate how this idea can be applied to the determination of muon sites within the ionic fluorides α-PbF2 and YF3, which contain fluoride ions in different crystallographic environments. Our results can be used to distinguish between different crystal phases and provide strong evidence for the existence of anion Frenkel defects in α-PbF2.