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Étude par Monte Carlo quantique de la transition γ-α du cérium

Abstract : The 4f electrons are strongly localized and their on-site Coulomb repulsion is large compared to bandwidth. Among all lanthanides, cerium is particularly fascinating, due to the strong hybridization with the 6s-6p-5d bands, all present at the Fermi level. The origin of the cerium volume collapse along the isostructural γ-α transition has been a puzzle since its discovery in 1927. Experimentally, pure cerium undergoes the γ-α transition always at finite temperature T. Recently, very accurate X-ray diffraction measurements undoubtedly confirmed the first-order Fm-3m isostructural character of the transition. The first-order line extrapolates to zero-T at negative pressures. The cerium γ-α phase transition is characterized by means of a many-body Jastrow-correlated wave function, which minimizes the variational energy of the first-principles scalar-relativistic Hamiltonian, and includes correlation effects in a non-perturbative way. Our variational ansatz reproduces the structural properties of the two phases, and proves that even at temperature T = 0 K the system undergoes a first order transition, with ab-initio parameters which are seamlessly connected to the ones measured by experiment at finite T. We show that the transition is related to a complex rearrangement of the electronic structure, with key role played by the localisation of t1u orbitals, which tunes the Coulomb repulsion, and the character of the chemical bond.
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Nicolas Devaux. Étude par Monte Carlo quantique de la transition γ-α du cérium. Chimie-Physique [physics.chem-ph]. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015PA066373⟩. ⟨tel-01271610⟩

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