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Nature. 2004 Jan 15;427(6971):227-31.

Partial order in the non-Fermi-liquid phase of MnSi.

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Physikalisches Institut, Universität Karlsruhe, D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany.


Only a few metallic phases have been identified in pure crystalline materials. These include normal, ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic metals, systems with spin and charge density wave order, and superconductors. Fermi-liquid theory provides a basis for the description of all of these phases. It has been suggested that non-Fermi-liquid phases of metals may exist in some heavy-fermion compounds and oxide materials, but the discovery of a characteristic microscopic signature of such phases presents a major challenge. The transition-metal compound MnSi above a certain pressure (p(c) = 14.6 kbar) provides what may be the cleanest example of an extended non-Fermi-liquid phase in a three-dimensional metal. The bulk properties of MnSi suggest that long-range magnetic order is suppressed at p(c) (refs 7-12). Here we report neutron diffraction measurements of MnSi, revealing that sizeable quasi-static magnetic moments survive far into the non-Fermi-liquid phase. These moments are organized in an unusual pattern with partial long-range order. Our observation supports the existence of novel metallic phases with partial ordering of the conduction electrons (reminiscent of liquid crystals), as proposed for the high-temperature superconductors and heavy-fermion compounds.


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