Scattering studies of excitations and phase transitions
This thesis describes a diversity of scattering experiments on a number of different systems. Using time-of-flight neutron scattering, a study of polycrystalline sodium in the highmomentum limit known as the impulse approximation has been performed. The purpose of this study was to look for anharmonic effects in the neutron recoil scattering of sodium as the temperature was increased from 30K to 300K. No such effects were detected and the results agreed with an isotropic harmonic solid to an accuracy of about 4%. Two experiments were carried out on antiferromagnetic systems using triple-axis neutron scattering techniques to measure the spin-wave dispersion relations. The first was on CuO to verify its description as a spin 1/2 one-dimensional antiferromagnet. The dispersion relation was measured along the chain direction up to an energy transfer of 8OmeV. This was done above and below the Néel temperature (TN =240K). However, no evidence was seen to justify the description of CuO as a one-dimensional antiferromagnet, with the spin waves behaving like those in a classical three-dimensional system. The other spin-wave study examined the two-dimensional antiferromagnet KFeF4 . The measurement of the spin-wave dispersion relation at two temperatures (50K and 100K) below the Néel temperature (TN =136.75±0.25K), confirmed the description of KFeF4 as a two-dimensional Heisenberg antiferromagnet with small Ising anisotropy. Studies of the magnetic phase transition in KFeF4 revealed that below the Néel temperature, the critical behaviour is described by two-dimensional Ising models, and above a crossover to Heisenberg behaviour is seen. This crossover was detected by measuring the order parameter below TN, and the static and dynamic susceptibilities above TN using neutron scattering techniques. The results were compared to power-law behaviour and also to theories for the classical Heisenberg antiferromagnet and the more recent quantum Heisenberg antiferromagnetic model. The final study of KFeF4 involved an x-ray experiment on the structural phase transition around 400K. It has been suggested that there is a second-order transition at 410K to an incommensurate phase, which then undergoes a first-order lock-in transition at 400K to the low-temperature structure. This single crystal x-ray scattering study confirms the existence of the first-order phase transition, but shows no evidence for a higher temperature second-order transition or for the incommensurate phase.