Hybridization, superexchange, and competing magnetoelastic interactions in TiOBr.
A crystalline sample of TiOBr is probed at room temperature by a combination of electron spectroscopies and the results are compared to theoretical embedded-cluster calculations. Resonant photoemission of the valence band confirms that the lowest binding energy feature arises from the singly occupied Ti 3d orbital. The polarization dependence of this orbital in nonresonant photoemission is consistent with the expected dominant d(y)(2)-z(2) character. The analysis of the Ti L-2,L-3 x-ray absorption spectra confirms the complete splitting of the Ti 3d shell. X-ray absorption and resonant photoemission at the O 1s edge provide direct evidence for hybridization between the transition metal orbitals and the O 2p levels, which leads to superexchange interactions between the Ti ions. The existence of a mixing of O and Ti states and of strong superexchange interactions is supported by calculations of the ground-state electronic and magnetic properties. The calculated superexchange interchain interaction is one fifth in strength of the total magnetic coupling along the chain, and is antiferromagnetic in character. This O-mediated interchain interaction is frustrated in the room temperature phase of TiOBr and thus couples strongly to distortions of the soft lattice. The competition between the interchain magnetoelastic coupling and the spin-Peierls interaction might be at the origin of the complex TiOX phase diagram.