Electronic structure and magnetism in half-Heusler compounds
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In this paper we have applied the full-potential linearized muffin tin orbital method and the tight-binding linearized muffin tin orbital method to investigate in detail the electronic structure and magnetism of a series of half-Heusler compounds XMZ with X = Fe, Co, Ni, M = Ti, V, Nb, Zr, Cr, Mo, Mn and Z = Sb, Sn. Our detailed analysis of the electronic structure using various indicators of chemical bonding suggests that covalent hybridization of the higher-valent transition element X with the lower-valent transition element M is the key interaction responsible for the formation of the d-d gap in these systems. However, the presence of the sp-valent element is crucial to provide stability to these systems. The influence of the relative ordering of the atoms in the unit cell on the d-d gap is also investigated. We have also studied in detail some of these systems with more than 18 valence electrons which exhibit novel magnetic properties, namely half-metallic ferro- and ferrimagnetism. We show that the d-d gap in the paramagnetic state, the relatively large X-Sb hybridization and the large exchange splitting of the M atoms are responsible for the half-metallic property of some of these systems.
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