The most efficient use of spatial volume and the lowest potential energies in the metal oxide structures are based on cubic close packing (ccp) or hexagonal close packing (hcp) of anions with cations occupying the interstices. A promising way to tune the composition of close packed oxides and design new compounds is related to fragmenting the parent structure into modules by periodically spaced planar interfaces, such as twin planes at the unit cell scale. The unique crystal chemistry properties of cations with a lone electron pair, such as Bi3+ or Pb2+, when located at interfaces, enables them to act as "chemical scissors", to help relieve configurational strain. With this approach, we synthesized a new oxide, BiMnFe2O6, where fragments of the hypothetical hcp oxygen-based MO structure (the NiAs structure type), for the first time, serve as the building modules in a complex transition metal oxide. Mn3+ and Fe3+ ions are randomly distributed in two crystallographically independent sites (M1 and M2). The structure consists of quasi two-dimensional blocks of the 2H hexagonal close packed MO structure cut along the (114) crystal plane of the hcp lattice and stacked along the c axis. The blocks are related by a mirror operation that allows BiMnFe2O6 to be considered as a polysynthetically twinned 2H hcp MO structure. The transition to an AFM state with an incommensurate spin configuration at ∼ 212 K is established by 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy, magnetic susceptibility, specific heat and low temperature powder neutron diffraction.
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