Local magnetism in MnSiPt rules the chemical bond

Rosner, Helge, Leithe-Jasper, Andreas, Carrillo-Cabrera, Wilder, Schnelle, Walter, Ackerbauer, Sarah V., Gamza, Monika B. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3360-4006 and Grin, Yuri (2018) Local magnetism in MnSiPt rules the chemical bond. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115 (30). pp. 7706-7710. ISSN 0027-8424

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1806842115


A crystal structure can be understood as a result of bonding interactions (covalent, ionic, van der Waals, etc.) between the constituting atoms. If the forces caused by these interactions are equilibrated, the so-stabilized crystal structure should have the lowest energy. In such an atomic configuration, additional weaker atomic interactions may further reduce the total energy, influencing the final atomic arrangement. Indeed, in the intermetallic compound MnSiPt, a 3D framework is formed by polar covalent bonds between Mn, Si, and Pt atoms. Without taking into account the local spin polarization of manganese atoms, they would form Mn–Mn bonds within the framework. Surprisingly, the local magnetic moments of manganese prevent the formation of Mn–Mn bonds, thus changing decisively and significantly the final atomic arrangement.Among intermetallic compounds, ternary phases with the simple stoichiometric ratio 1:1:1 form one of the largest families. More than 15 structural patterns have been observed for several hundred compounds constituting this group. This, on first glance unexpected, finding is a consequence of the complex mechanism of chemical bonding in intermetallic structures, allowing for large diversity. Their formation process can be understood based on a hierarchy of energy scales: The main share is contributed by covalent and ionic interactions in accordance with the electronic needs of the participating elements. However, smaller additional atomic interactions may still tip the scales. Here, we demonstrate that the local spin polarization of paramagnetic manganese in the new compound MnSiPt rules the adopted TiNiSi-type crystal structure. Combining a thorough experimental characterization with a theoretical analysis of the energy landscape and the chemical bonding of MnSiPt, we show that the paramagnetism of the Mn atoms suppresses the formation of Mn–Mn bonds, deciding between competing crystal structures.

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