We report an experimental and computational study of single-crystal NdFeO3, which features two inequivalent magnetic sublattices, namely, Fe and Nd sublattices that are coupled in an antiparallel fashion. This paper reveals that a strong interaction between 3d and 4f electrons of the two sublattices along with a spin-lattice coupling drives an extremely interesting magnetic state that is highly sensitive to the orientation and history of weak magnetic field. The following phenomena are particularly remarkable: (1) sharply contrasting magnetization M(T) along the a and c axes; (2) a first-order spin switching along the a axis below 29 K when the system is zero-field-cooled; and (3) a progressive magnetization reversal when the system is field-cooled. The intriguing magnetic behavior is captured in our first-principles density functional theory calculations.

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Published in Physical Review B, v. 87, issue 18, 184405, p. 1-6.

©2013 American Physical Society

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This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Nos. 50932003, 11274221, 11274222, 11074163), the Eastern Scholar Professorship at Shanghai Institutions of Higher Education, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Shanghai Shuguang Program (12SG34), and the Research Innovation Fund of the Shanghai Education Committee (No.12YZ018). L.B. and W.R. thank the financial support of ARO Grant W911NF-12-1-0085. They also acknowledge the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract ER-46612, ONR grants N00014-11-1-0384, N00014-12-1-1034, and N00014-08-1-0915, and NSF grants DMR-1066158 and DMR-0701558 for discussions with scientists supported by these grants. Some computations were also made possible thanks to the MRI Grant 0722625 from NSF, Shanghai Supercomputer Center, the ONR Grant N00014-07-1-0825 (DURIP) and a Challenge Grant from the Department of Defense. S.J.Y. and G.C. acknowledge NSF support through grants DMR-0856234 and EPS-0814194.