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Resonant inelastic X-ray scattering on spin-orbit-induced correlated-electron systems : scientific applications and instrumental developments

Abstract : Iridium oxides (iridates) have raised notable attention in the last decade due to the identification of a Mott insulating state realized by the joint action of crystal field, electron correlation, and spin-orbit coupling. Such state has been intensively investigated and novel quantum phases and excitations have been theoretically predicted and experimentally found. Undoubtedly, one of the most employed techniques to elucidate the low-energy physics of iridates is resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS). At the iridium L3 edge, it benefits from a particularly good energy resolution, which matches the energy scales of the relevant excitations, and from a favorable inelastic cross-section. The aim of the present thesis is twofold: conceive challenging instrumental upgrades that contribute to the advancement of the technique itself, and apply RIXS to inspect the magnetic and electronic properties of selected iridates.The main instrumental development concerns the design of a new RIXS spectrometer with polarization resolution. Polarization analysis of the scattered X-rays provides useful information about the symmetry and thus the nature of an excitation. However, it is rather unexploited because of severe technical challenges when energy resolution and efficiency must be preserved. The designed RIXS spectrometer with polarization analysis capabilities is still under construction, however the optical scheme has been validated by preliminary tests. Full polarization analysis is expected without degradation of energy resolution or efficiency with respect to current state-of-the-art RIXS spectrometers. Additional technical developments include sample-environment equipment to perform RIXS experiments in low-temperature and high-pressure conditions. The equipment has been successfully utilized to investigate the magnetic dynamics of the bilayer-perovskite Sr3Ir2O7 below its Néel temperature and up to 12 GPa. Our measurements provide additional observations that may sharpen the challenge to theoretical understanding of the magnetic dynamics of this material. Moreover, we demonstrate for the first time that RIXS experiments of the magnetic dynamics can be extended to unexplored thermodynamic conditions.Besides instrumental advances, additional experimental work has been carried out in order to study the magnetic and electronic excitations of the post-perovskite CaIrO3. Owing to its peculiar crystal structure, featuring both edge- and corner-sharing octahedra, the magnetic interactions of CaIrO3 are very different along orthogonal directions. In particular, the inhibition of the Heisenberg coupling along the edge-sharing direction induces one-dimensional magnetic behavior with characteristic fractional spinon-like excitations, which have been detected by RIXS. Electronic excitations are also found to have particular properties. Finally, I have focused on the electronic structure of Rb2[IrF6], which was theoretically predicted to realize a Mott insulating state similar to the one of iridium oxides. RIXS measurements helped to elucidate the electronic properties of this compound. The robustness of the electronic state has been tested against substitutions of the alkali metal and halogen, and application of physical pressure.The present work extends the potential of the RIXS technique to domains previously unexplored, i.e. polarization analysis of the scattered X-rays and high-pressure low-temperature experiments. I hope that the instrumental upgrades and applications of RIXS discussed in this thesis will further promote the technique as a powerful and reliable tool to characterize elementary excitations in correlated-electron systems.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 24, 2018 - 8:31:06 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01799557, version 1



Matteo Rossi. Resonant inelastic X-ray scattering on spin-orbit-induced correlated-electron systems : scientific applications and instrumental developments. Other [cond-mat.other]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAY089⟩. ⟨tel-01799557⟩



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