Quantum chemical approach to spin-orbit excitations and magnetic interactions in iridium oxides

by Vamshi Mohan Katukuri

Institution: Technische Universität Dresden
Department: Fakultät Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Record ID: 1099584
Full text PDF: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:14-qucosa-160735


In the recent years, interest in TM oxides with 5d valence electrons has grown immensely due to the realization of novel spin-orbit coupled ground states. In these compounds, e.g., iridates and osmates, the intriguing situation arises where the spin-orbit and electron-electron interactions meet on the same energy scale. This has created a new window of interest in these compounds since the interplay of crystal field effects, local multiplet physics, spin-orbit couplings, and intersite hopping can offer novel types of correlated ground states and excitations. In 5d5 iridates, a spin-orbit entangled j = 1/2 Mott insulating state has been realized recently. A remarkable feature of such a ground state is that it gives rise to anisotropic magnetic interactions. The 2D honeycomb-lattice 213 iridium oxides, A2IrO3 (A=Li,Na), have been put forward to host highly anisotropic bond-dependent spin-spin interactions that resemble the Kitaev spin model, which supports various types of topological phases relevant in quantum computing. The 2D square-lattice 214 iridates Sr2IrO4 and Ba2IrO4 are, on the other hand, appealing because of their perceived structural and magnetic simi- larity to La2CuO4, the mother compound of the cuprate high-Tc superconductors. This has promoted the latter iridium oxide compounds as novel platforms for the search of high-Tc superconductivity. To put such considerations on a firm footing, it is essential to quantify the different coupling strengths and energy scales, as they for instance appear in effective Hamiltonian descriptions of these correlated systems. Moreover, it is important to correctly describe their effects. In this thesis, the electronic structure and magnetic properties of 5d5 (mainly 214 and 213) iridates are studied using wave-function-based quantum chemistry methods. These methods are fully ab initio and are capable of accurately treating the electron-electron interactions without using any ad hoc parameters. The spin-orbit entangled j = 1/2 ground state in 214, 213 and other lower symmetry Sr3CuIrO6 and Na4Ir3O8 iridates is first analyzed in detail, by studying the local electronic structure of the 5d5 Ir4+ ion. We establish that the longer-range crystal anisotropy, i.e., low-symmetry fields related to ionic sites beyond the nearest neighbor oxygen cage, strongly influence the energies of Ir d levels. The ground state in all the compounds studied is j = 1/2 like with admixture from j ≃ 3/2 states ranging from 1 – 15 %. Further, the average j ≃ 1/2 → j ≃ 3/2 excitation energy we find is around 0.6 eV. The NN magnetic exchange interactions we computed for 214 iridates are predominantly isotropic Heisenberg-like with J ~ 60 meV, 3 – 4 times smaller than found in isostructural copper oxides. However, the anisotropic interactions are an order of magnitude larger than those in cuprates. Our estimates are in excellent agreement with those extracted from experiments, e.g., resonant inelastic x-ray scattering measurements. For the 213 honeycomb-lattice Na2IrO3 our calculations show that the…