A catastrophic charge density wave in BaFe$_2$Al$_9$

1 Jan 2021  ·  William R. Meier, Bryan C. Chakoumakos, Satoshi Okamoto, Michael A. McGuire, Raphaël P. Hermann, German D. Samolyuk, Shang Gao, Qiang Zhang, Matthew B. Stone, Andrew D. Christianson, Brian C. Sales ·

Charge density waves (CDW) are modulations of the electron density and the atomic lattice that develop in some crystalline materials at low temperature. We report an unusual example of a CDW in BaFe$_2$Al$_9$ below 100 K. In contrast to the canonical CDW phase transition, temperature dependent physical properties of single crystals reveal a first-order phase transition... This is accompanied by a discontinuous change in the size of the crystal lattice. In fact, this large strain has catastrophic consequences for the crystals causing them to physically shatter. Single crystal x-ray diffraction reveals super-lattice peaks in the low-temperature phase signaling the development of a CDW lattice modulation. No similar low-temperature transitions are observed in BaCo$_2$Al$_9$. Electronic structure calculations provide one hint to the different behavior of these two compounds; the d-orbital states in the Fe compound are not completely filled. Iron compounds are renowned for their magnetism and partly filled d-states play a key role. It is therefore surprising that BaFe$_2$Al$_9$ develops a structural modulation instead at low temperature instead of magnetic order. read more

PDF Abstract