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Journal Article

Inelastic x-ray investigation of the ferroelectric transition in SnTe


Sokolov,  Dmitry A.
Physics of Quantum Materials, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Max Planck Society;

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O'Neill, C. D., Sokolov, D. A., Hermann, A., Bossak, A., Stock, C., & Huxley, A. D. (2017). Inelastic x-ray investigation of the ferroelectric transition in SnTe. Physical Review B, 95(14): 144101, pp. 1-5. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.95.144101.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-3F7E-1
We report that the lowest energy transverse-optic phonon in metallic SnTe softens to near zero energy at the structural transition at T-C = 75 K and importantly show that the energy of this mode below T-C increases as the temperature decreases. Since the mode is a polar displacement this proves unambiguously that SnTe undergoes a ferroelectric displacement below T-C. Concentration gradients and imperfect stoichiometry in large crystals may explain why this was not seen in previous inelastic neutron scattering studies. Despite SnTe being metallic we find that the ferroelectric transition is similar to that in ferroelectric insulators, unmodified by the presence of conduction electrons: we find that (i) the damping of the polar mode is dominated by coupling to acoustic phonons rather than electron-phonon coupling, (ii) the transition is almost an ideal continuous transition, and (iii) comparison with density functional calculations identifies the importance of dipolar-dipolar screening for understanding this behavior.