Study of the B-site ion behaviour in the multiferroic perovskite bismuth iron chromium oxide
A simple, near-ambient pressure solid-state method was developed to nominally synthesize BiFe0.5Cr0.5O3. The procedure allowed the gram-scale production of multiferroic samples with appreciable purity and large amounts of Cr incorporation that were suitable for systematic structural investigation by neutron, X-ray, and electron diffraction in tandem with physical characterization of magnetic and ferroelectric properties. The rhombohedrally distorted perovskite phase was assigned to the space group R3c by way of X-ray and neutron powder diffraction analysis. Through a combination of magnetometry and muon spin relaxation, it is evident that there is magnetic ordering in the BFCO phase consistent with G-type antiferromagnetism and a TN ∼ 400 K. There is no clear evidence for chemical ordering of Fe and Cr in the B-site of the perovskite structure and this result is rationalized by density functional theory and bond valence simulations that show a lowered energy associated with a B-site disordered structure. We believe that our contribution of a new, low-complexity method for the synthesis of BFO type samples, and dialogue about realising certain types of ordering in oxide perovskite systems, will assist in the further development of multiferroics for next-generation devices.