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Tristan Combier

Ferromagnetic quantum criticality in the uranium-based ternary compounds URhSi, URhAl, and UCoAl

Published on 27 February 2014


Thesis presented February 27, 2014

Abstract:
In this thesis we explore the ferromagnetic quantum criticality in three uranium-based ternary compounds, by means of thermodynamical and transport measurements on single crystal samples, at low temperature and high pressure. URhSi and URhAl are itinerant ferromagnets, while UCoAl is a paramagnet being close to a ferromagnetic instability. All of them have Ising-type magnetic ordering. In the orthorhombic compound URhSi, we show that the Curie temperature decreases upon applying a magnetic field perpendicular to the easy magnetization axis, and a quantum phase transition is expected around 40 T. In the hexagonal system URhAl, we establish the pressure–temperature phase diagram for the first time, indicating a quantum phase transition around 5 GPa. In the isostructural compound UCoAl, we investigate the metamagnetic transition with measurements of magnetization, Hall effect, resistivity and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism. Some intriguing magnetic relaxation phenomena are observed, with step-like features. Hall effect and resistivity have been measured at dilution temperatures, under hydrostatic pressure up to 2.2 GPa and magnetic field up to 16 T. The metamagnetic transition terminates under pressure and magnetic field at a quantum critical endpoint. In this region, a strong effective mass enhancement occurs, and an intriguing difference between up and down field sweeps appears in transverse resistivity. This may be the signature of a new phase, supposedly linked to the relaxation phenomena observed in magnetic measurements, arising from frustration on the quasi-Kagome lattice of uranium atoms in this crystal structure.

Keywords:
Hall effect, magnetization, quantum criticality, heavy fermions, low temperature, resistivity, new quantum phases, high pressure, ferromagnetism, uranium compounds, strongly correlated electrons

On-line thesis.