Density Functional Theory Characterization of the Multiferroicity in Spin Spiral Chain Cuprates


The ferroelectricity of the spiral magnets LiCu2O2 and LiCuVO4 was examined by calculating the electric polarizations of their spin spiral states on the basis of density functional theory with spin-orbit coupling. Our work unambiguously reveals that spin-orbit coupling is responsible for the ferroelectricity with the primary contribution from the spin-orbit coupling on the Cu sites, but the asymmetric density distribution responsible for the electric polarization occurs mainly around the O atoms. The electric polarization is calculated to be much greater for the ab- than for the bc-plane spin spiral. The observed spin-spiral plane is found to be consistent with the observed direction of the electric polarization for LiCuVO4, but inconsistent for LiCu2O2.Comment: Phys. Rev. Lett., in prin

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    Last time updated on 02/01/2020