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Thermally activated exchange narrowing of the Gd3+ ESR fine structure in a single crystal of Ce1-xGdxFe4P12 (x≈0.001) skutterudite


We report electron spin resonance (ESR) measurements in the Gd3+ doped semiconducting filled skutterudite compound Ce1-xGd xFe4P12 (x-0.001). As the temperature T varies from T- 150 K to T- 165 K, the Gd3+ ESR fine and hyperfine structures coalesce into a broad inhomogeneous single resonance. At T- 200 K the line narrows and as T increases further, the resonance becomes homogeneous with a thermal broadening of 1.1(2) Oe/K. These results suggest that the origin of these features may be associated with a subtle interdependence of thermally activated mechanisms that combine: (i) an increase with T of the density of activated conduction carriers across the T-dependent semiconducting pseudogap; (ii) the Gd3+ Korringa relaxation process due to an exchange interaction JfdS.s between the Gd3+ localized magnetic moments and the thermally activated conduction carriers; and (iii) a relatively weak confining potential of the rare earth ions inside the oversized (Fe 2P3)4 cage, which allows the rare earths to become rattler Einstein oscillators above T- 148 K. We argue that the rattling of the Gd3+ ions, via a motional narrowing mechanism, also contributes to the coalescence of the ESR fine and hyperfine structure. © 2011 American Physical Society.

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