Raman spectroscopic evidence for multiferroicity in rare earth nickelate single crystals

The rare earth nickelates RNiO3 are metallic at high temperatures and insulating and magnetically ordered at low temperatures. The low temperature phase has been predicted to be type II multiferroic, i.e., ferroelectric and magnetic order are coupled and occur simultaneously. Confirmation of those ideas has been inhibited by the absence of experimental data on single crystals. Here we report on Raman spectroscopic data of RNiO3 single crystals (R = Y, Er, Ho, Dy, Sm, Nd) for temperatures between 10 and 1000 K. Entering the magnetically ordered phase we observe the appearance of a large number of additional vibrational modes, implying a breaking of inversion symmetry expected for multiferroic order.