Spinel ferrites in general show a rich interplay of structural, electronic, and magnetic properties. Here, we particularly focus on zinc ferrite (ZFO), which has been observed experimentally to crystallise in the cubic normal spinel structure. However, its magnetic ground state is still under dispute. In addition, some unusual magnetic properties in ZFO thin films or nanostructures have been explained by a possible partial cation inversion and a different magnetic interaction between the two cation sublattices of the spinel structure compared to the crystalline bulk material. Here, density functional theory has been applied to investigate the influence of different inversion degrees and magnetic couplings among the cation sublattices on the structural, electronic, magnetic, and optical properties. Effects of exchange and correlation have been modelled using the generalised gradient approximation (GGA) together with the Hubbard "+U" parameter, and the more elaborate hybrid functional PBE0. While the GGA+U calculations yield an antiferromagnetically coupled normal spinel structure as the ground state, in the PBE0 calculations the ferromagnetically coupled normal spinel is energetically slightly favoured, and the hybrid functional calculations perform much better with respect to structural, electronic and optical properties.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter|
|Publication status||Published - 14 Feb 2018|
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