Although defects may be seen as detrimental, they play essential roles in many materials. In some complex oxides for instance, they present an opportunity to enhance particular properties, or even engineer new ones. An archetypal example is the high-Tc superconductor YBa2Cu3O7−δ (YBCO), where defects are indispensable to immobilize quantized vortices in the presence of magnetic fields. Therefore, determining the atomic structure of defects is critical to unravel and control their effect on the physical properties. In this talk, we will do precisely that with an unforeseen complex point-defect that leads to an unexpected formation of ferromagnetic clusters embedded within a superconductor. The commonest YBCO defect comprises the doubling of Cu-O chains between Ba-O planes, a ubiquitous intergrowth regardless of the deposition technique. Here, we will unclothe the true nature of this defect using a combination of experiments and theory to provide a complete picture of the structure and chemistry of these intergrowths at the atomic-scale and their effect on the electronic and magnetic properties of YBCO. First, we will show, by means of scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), how the system solves the local off-stoichiometry induced by the extra Cu-O chain, removing half of the Cu atoms in selected chains, and the distortions induced by the vacancies. Secondly, we will show using density functional theory (DFT) how the complex structure of these intergrowths affects the electronic properties, and yields a magnetization density that extends into the neighboring Cu-O planes. Finally, we will present X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) spectroscopy results, which provide evidence of the theoretically predicted Cu magnetic moments and the presence of a dilute network of magnetic defects within the high-Tc superconducting state, see Figure 1. See for more details “Emerging dilute ferromagnetism in high-Tc superconductors driven by point defect clusters”, Adv. Sci. 2016, 1500295.
To cite this abstract:Jaume Gazquez, Roger Guzman, Rohan Mishra, Elena Bartolome, Juan Salafranca, Cesar Magen, Maria Varela, Mariona Coll, Anna Palau, S.M. Valvidares, Pierluigi Gargiani, Eric Pellegrin, Javier Herrero-Martin, S.J. Pennycook, Teresa Puig, Xavier Obradors; Point defect driven ferromagnetism in YBa2Cu3O7-x superconductor. The 16th European Microscopy Congress, Lyon, France. https://emc-proceedings.com/abstract/point-defect-driven-ferromagnetism-in-yba2cu3o7-x-superconductor/. Accessed: December 4, 2023
EMC Abstracts - https://emc-proceedings.com/abstract/point-defect-driven-ferromagnetism-in-yba2cu3o7-x-superconductor/