Emergent helical texture of electric dipoles

Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 13:51 in Physics & Chemistry

Long-range ordering of magnetic dipoles in bulk materials gives rise to a broad range of magnetic structures, from simple collinear ferromagnets and antiferromagnets, to complex magnetic helicoidal textures stabilized by competing exchange interactions. In contrast, dipolar order in dielectric crystals is typically limited to parallel (ferroelectric) and antiparallel (antiferroelectric) collinear alignments of electric dipoles. Here, we report an observation of incommensurate helical ordering of electric dipoles by light hole doping of the quadruple perovskite BiMn7O12. In analogy with magnetism, the electric dipole helicoidal texture is stabilized by competing instabilities. Specifically, orbital ordering and lone electron pair stereochemical activity compete, giving rise to phase transitions from a nonchiral cubic structure to an incommensurate electric dipole and orbital helix via an intermediate density wave.

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