First-principles study of rare-earth (RE) cobaltites (RE=Nd,Sm,Gd,Dy,Er,Lu)
Thursday, 18 December 2014
The lanthanide series of the periodic table comprises 15 members ranging from Lanthanum (La) to Lutetium (Lu). Although they are more abundant than silver, and some of them are more abundant than lead, they are known as rare-earth (RE) elements. The "rare" in their name refers to the difficulty of obtaining the pure elements, not to their abundances in nature. They are never found as free metals in the Earth's crust and do not exist as pure minerals. Using first-principles plane-wave calculations, we investigate the structural and electronic properties of rare-earth cobaltites (RECoO3). Structurally consistent Hubbard U treatment was shown to essential for proper description of strongly correlated cobalt-d electrons. We successfully capture the experimentally observed structural trends and give first-principles insights on interesting phenomena related with the cobalt spin state change. It was demonstrated that increase of crystal-field splitting energy between eg-t2g orbitals and shrinking of unoccupied σ*-bonding eg bands are responsible for the increase of onset spin-state transition temperature along the series.