A First-Order Phase Transition Induced by a Magnetic Field

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Science  10 Nov 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5238, pp. 961-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5238.961


An electronic (metal-to-insulator) phase transition of the first order, which can be caused by an external magnetic field, was discovered in Nd1/2Sr1/2MnO3. A clear hysteresis was observed during the increase and decrease of an external magnetic field at a fixed temperature. The hysteretic field region was observed to depend critically on temperature and to drastically expand with a decrease of temperature, perhaps as a result of suppression of the effect of thermal fluctuations on the first-order phase transition. Although it has seldom been observed, this is thought to be a generic feature of the first-order phase transition at low temperatures near 0 kelvin.