Neutron scattering revealed spin connections of iron trichloride. An artists depiction interprets the scattering that supplies proof of a spiral spin liquid state. Credit: Jacquelyn DeMink/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Researchers at the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) used neutron scattering to identify whether a particular products atomic structure could host an unique state of matter called a spiral spin liquid. The group found the first 2D system to host a spiral spin liquid by tracking tiny magnetic moments called “spins” on the honeycomb lattice of a layered iron trichloride magnet.
The finding supplies a test bed for future research studies of physics phenomena that might drive next-generation infotech. These include skyrmions and fractons. Fractons are cumulative quantized vibrations that might prove appealing in quantum computing. Skyrmions are novel magnetic spin textures that could advance high-density data storage.
” Materials hosting spiral spin liquids are particularly interesting due to their prospective to be utilized to create quantum spin liquids, spin textures, and fracton excitations,” stated ORNLs Shang Gao, who led the study released in Physical Review Letters.
A long-held theory anticipated that the honeycomb lattice can host a spiral spin liquid. This is a novel stage of matter in which spins kind fluctuating corkscrew-like structures.
Nevertheless, until today study, speculative evidence of this stage in a 2D system had been doing not have. A 2D system makes up a layered crystalline product in which interactions are more powerful in the planar than in the stacking direction.
Neutron scattering revealed spin connections of iron trichloride. An artists depiction interprets the scattering that offers evidence of a spiral spin liquid state. In quantum products, electron spins can act collectively and exotically. The system remains in a state of aggravation– a liquid that protects disorder due to the fact that electron spins continuously change instructions, requiring other entangled electrons to vary in reaction.
He described the magnetic structure of a spiral spin liquid: “It looks like a topographic map of a group of mountains with a bunch of rings going outside.
Gao determined iron trichloride as a promising platform for checking the theory, which was proposed more than a years earlier. He and co-author Andrew Christianson of ORNL approached Michael McGuire, likewise of ORNL, who has actually worked thoroughly on growing and studying 2D products, asking if he would synthesize and identify a sample of iron trichloride for neutron diffraction measurements. Like 2D graphene layers exist in bulk graphite as honeycomb lattices of pure carbon, 2D iron layers exist wholesale iron trichloride as 2D honeycomb layers. “Previous reports hinted that this interesting honeycomb material could reveal complicated magnetic habits at low temperatures,” McGuire stated.
” Each honeycomb layer of iron has chlorine atoms above and listed below it, making chlorine-iron-chlorine pieces,” McGuire said. This weak bonding makes materials like this quickly peeled apart into really thin layers, typically down to a single piece.
In quantum materials, electron spins can act collectively and exotically. If one spin moves, all react– a knotted state Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” The system remains in a state of disappointment– a liquid that maintains condition since electron spins continuously alter instructions, requiring other entangled electrons to fluctuate in action.
60 years ago, the first neutron diffraction research studies of ferric chloride crystals were performed at ORNL. Today, ORNLs extensive competence in products synthesis, neutron scattering, simulation, theory, computation, and imaging enables pioneering explorations of magnetic quantum materials that drive the advancement of next-generation technologies for information security and storage.
Mapping spin movements in the spiral spin liquid was made possible by specialists and tools at the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor, DOE Office of Science user centers at ORNL. ORNL co-authors were necessary for the success of the neutron scattering experiments: Clarina dela Cruz, who led experiments using HFIRs POWDER diffractometer; Yaohua Liu, who led experiments utilizing SNSs CORELLI spectrometer; Matthias Frontzek, who led experiments engaging HFIRs WAND2 diffractometer; Matthew Stone, who led experiments running SNSs SEQUOIA spectrometer; and Douglas Abernathy, who led experiments working SNSs ARCS spectrometer.
” The neutron scattering information from our measurements at SNS and HFIR offered engaging proof of a spiral spin liquid phase,” Gao said.
He described the magnetic structure of a spiral spin liquid: “It looks like a topographic map of a group of mountains with a bunch of rings going outward. If you were to walk along a ring, all spins would point in the same direction.
” Our study shows that the concept of a spiral spin liquid is practical for the broad class of honeycomb lattice materials,” said co-author Andrew Christianson. “It gives the neighborhood a brand-new path to check out spin textures and novel excitations, such as fractons, that then might be utilized in future applications, such as quantum computing.”
Recommendation: “Spiral Spin Liquid on a Honeycomb Lattice” by Shang Gao, Michael A. McGuire, Yaohua Liu, Douglas L. Abernathy, Clarina dela Cruz, Matthias Frontzek, Matthew B. Stone and Andrew D. Christianson, 1 June 2022, Physical Review Letters.DOI: 10.1103/ PhysRevLett.128.2272.
DOEs Office of Science supported the work.