Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Janice L. Musfeldt

Committee Members

David M. Jenkins, Sharani Roy, Veerle M. Keppens


Due to their low energy scales, flexible architectures, and unique exchange pathways, molecule-based multiferroics host a number of unique properties and phase transitions under external stimuli. In this dissertation, we reveal the magnetic- and pressure-driven transitions in [(CH3)2NH2]Mn(HCOO)3 and (NH4)2[FeCl5(H2O)], present a detailed investigation of these materials away from standard equilibrium phases, and develop rich two- and three-dimensional phase diagrams.

The first platform for exploring phase transitions is [(CH3)2NH2]Mn(HCOO)3. This type-I multiferroic contains Mn centers linked by formate ligands creating Mn-O-C-O-Mn superexchange pathways. Magnetization measurements reveal two transitions - a spin-flop and a transition to the fully polarized state - and the loss of long-range order above the Neel temperature. Extending to the high-pressure regime, we perform vibrational spectroscopy across the order-disorder transition and use a correlation group analysis to determine the high pressure space groups. The superexchange pathway plays a crucial role in triggering the structural crossover to lower symmetry. Despite having driving different space groups above/below the order-disorder temperature, compression lowers each symmetry to the polar space group P1. We develop the pressure - temperature - magnetic field phase diagram for [(CH3)2NH2]Mn(HCOO)3 and articulate the potential for enhanced polarization under compression.

The type-II multiferrroic (NH4)2[FeCl5(H2O)] is different. It hosts a unique set of exchange pathways mediated by through-space hydrogen- and halogen-bonding. Magnetization displays a series of transitions, including the spin-flop, transition to the fully saturated state, and many associated reorientation transitions. Extending to high-pressure studies, we employ infrared absorption and Raman scattering under compression to reveal an increase in hydrogen bonding and changes in the FeCl5H2O polyhedron that are unique to this regime. A space group analysis uncovers a sequence of space group changes that suggests it is driven to a polar space group. We generate the complete three-dimensional phase diagram, which displays the many competing structural and magnetic interactions.

Together, these findings uncover magnetically-driven quantum phase transitions and reduced symmetry under compression to likely polar space groups. This work motivates extended investigations of non-equilibrium phases under external stimuli in these and other molecule-based materials with low energy scales, flexible architectures and unique spin interactions.

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