Local and average structure of Mn- and La-substituted BiFeO3
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Solid State Chemistry. 2017, 250 75-82. 10.1016/j.jssc.2017.03.021
The local and average structure of solid solutions of the multiferroic perovskite BiFeO3 is investigated by synchrotron X-ray diffraction (XRD) and electron density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The average experimental structure is determined by Rietveld refinement and the local structure by total scattering data analyzed in real space with the pair distribution function (PDF) method. With equal concentrations of La on the Bi site or Mn on the Fe site, La causes larger structural distortions than Mn. Structural models based on DFT relaxed geometry give an improved fit to experimental PDFs compared to models constrained by the space group symmetry. Berry phase calculations predict a higher ferroelectric polarization than the experimental literature values, reflecting that structural disorder is not captured in either average structure space group models or DFT calculations with artificial long range order imposed by periodic boundary conditions. Only by including point defects in a supercell, here Bi vacancies, can DFT calculations reproduce the literature results on the structure and ferroelectric polarization of Mn-substituted BiFeO3. The combination of local and average structure sensitive experimental methods with DFT calculations is useful for illuminating the structure-property-composition relationships in complex functional oxides with local structural distortions.