Friday, July 19, 2013

1307.5047 (Tian-Heng Han et al.)

Fractionalized excitations in the spin liquid state of a kagomé
lattice antiferromagnet

Tian-Heng Han, Joel S. Helton, Shaoyan Chu, Daniel G. Nocera, Jose A. Rodriguez-Rivera, Collin Broholm, Young S. Lee
New physics can emerge in magnetic materials where quantum fluctuations are enhanced due to reduced dimensionality and strong frustration. One long sought example is the resonating-valence-bond (RVB) state, where atomic magnetic moments are strongly correlated but do not order or freeze even in the limit of T -> 0. The RVB ground state does not break conventional symmetries, such as lattice translation or spin-rotation. The realization of such a quantum spin liquid in two-dimensions would represent a new state of matter. It is believed that spin liquid physics plays a role in the phenomenon of high-Tc superconductivity, and the topological properties of the spin liquid state may have applications in the field of quantum information. We present neutron scattering measurements of the spin excitations on single crystal samples of the spin-1/2 kagom\'{e} lattice antiferromagnet ZnCu3(OD)6Cl2 (also called herbertsmithite). Our observation of a spinon continuum in a two-dimensional magnet is remarkable first. The results serve as a key fingerprint of the quantum spin liquid state in herbertsmithite.
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