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Emerging Diluted Ferromagnetism in High-Tc Superconductors Driven by Point Defect Clusters

defectsinceramics

Jaume Gazquez,* Roger. Guzman, Rohan Mishra, Elena Bartolomé, Juan Salafranca, Cesar Magén, Maria Varela, Mariona Coll, Anna Palau, S. Manuel Valvidares, Pierluigi Gargiani, Eric Pellegrin, Javier. Herrero-Martin, Stephen J. Pennycook, Sokrates T. Pantelides, Teresa Puig, and Xavier Obradors. Adv. Sci. 2016, 1500295. DOI: 10.1002/advs.201500295

Defects in ceramic materials are generally seen as detrimental to their functionality and applicability. Yet, in some complex oxides, defects present an opportunity to enhance some of their properties or even lead to the discovery of exciting physics, particularly in the presence of strong correlations. A paradigmatic case is the high-temperature superconductor YBa2Cu3O7-δ (Y123), in which nanoscale defects play an important role as they can immobilize quantized magnetic flux vortices. Here previously unforeseen point defects buried in Y123 thin films that lead to the formation of ferromagnetic clusters embedded within the superconductor are unveiled. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission microscopy has been used for exploring, on a single unit-cell level, the structure and chemistry resulting from these complex point defects, along with density functional theory calculations, for providing new insights about their nature including an unexpected defect-driven ferromagnetism, and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism for bearing evidence of Cu magnetic moments that align ferromagnetically even below the superconducting critical temperature to form a dilute system of magnetic clusters associated with the point defects.

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