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Existence of La-site antisite defects in LaMO3 (M = Mn, Fe, and Co) predicted with many-body diffusion quantum Monte Carlo

Tom Ichibha, Kayahan Saritas, Jaron T. Krogel, Ye Luo, Paul R. C. Kent, and Fernando A. Reboredo

Scientific Reports 13 6703 (2023)

The properties of LaMO3 (M: 3d transition metal) perovskite crystals are significantly dependent on point defects, whether introduced accidentally or intentionally. The most studied defects in La-based perovskites are the oxygen vacancies and doping impurities on the La and M sites. Here, we identify that another intrinsic antisite defect, the replacement of La by the transition metal, M, can be formed under M-rich and O-poor growth conditions, based on results of an accurate many-body ab initio approach. Our fixed-node diffusion Monte Carlo (FNDMC) calculations of LaMO3 (M = Mn, Fe, and Co) find that such antisite defects can have low formation energies and are magnetized. Complementary density functional theory (DFT)-based calculations show that Mn antisite defects in LaMnO3 may cause the p-type electronic conductivity. These features could affect spintronics, redox catalysis, and other broad applications. Our bulk validation studies establish that FNDMC reproduces the antiferromagnetic state of LaMnO3, whereas DFT with PBE (Perdew–Burke–Ernzerhof), SCAN (strongly constrained and appropriately normed), and the LDA+U (local density approximation with Coulomb U) functionals all favor ferromagnetic states, at variance with experiment.

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