Scanning probe microscopy investigation of bilayered manganites



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The bilayered manganite La2−2xSr1+2xMn2O7, with x in the ferromagnetic compositional region, exhibits very interesting electronic and magnetic properties below the Curie temperature, such as a colossal magneto-resistance (CMR) effect. We have studied the microscopic electronic structure in the x = 0.32, 0.4 compounds at 80 K and 20 K by using a home-built low temperature scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the evolution of the ferromagnetic domains with temperature and magnetic field in the x = 0.32 compound from 30 K to 110 K by using a home-built low temperature magnetic force microscope (MFM). STM topographic images show nano-sized patterns composed of Mn3+- rich and Mn4+-rich regions in the mixed-valent matrix. Tunneling spectra I(V )& dI dV (V ) show a gap and a tunneling asymmetry of the LDOS as a function of the sample bias voltage. By using current-imaging tunneling spectroscopy (CITS), we obtained a series of tunneling conductance maps which show the coexistence of localized electrons and itinerant electrons in this system. In the x = 0.32 compound, we observed a modulation with a wave vector of 16 ˚A propagating along a-axis at 20K. This indicates the formation of a charge density wave as a result of Fermi surface nesting in this system. In MFM images, we observed that below 60 K, the ferromagnetic (FM) domains form stable treelike patterns and the domains are mainly oriented in the out-of-plane direction. As the temperature increases, the FM domains begin to experience a gradual change. This change becomes more and more rapid above 80 K. The FM domains change their magnetization from the out-of-plane direction to in-plane around 88 K. The in-plane FM domains completely disappear near TC . We also observed thermal hysteresis occurring in magnetic structures. We conclude that the formation of FM domains at low temperatures is determined by the energy associated with surface magnetic free poles and domain walls. At high temperatures, the two-dimensional ferromagnetic fluctuation in the basal plane may also play an important role in forming the domain structures.