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Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Nov 7;113(19):197201. Epub 2014 Nov 6.

Noncoplanar and counterrotating incommensurate magnetic order stabilized by Kitaev interactions in γ-Li(2)IrO(3).

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Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, United Kingdom.
Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.
Diamond Light Source Ltd., Didcot OX11 0DE, United Kingdom.
Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA and Materials Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Materials that realize Kitaev spin models with bond-dependent anisotropic interactions have long been searched for, as the resulting frustration effects are predicted to stabilize novel forms of magnetic order or quantum spin liquids. Here, we explore the magnetism of γ-Li(2)IrO(3), which has the topology of a three-dimensional Kitaev lattice of interconnected Ir honeycombs. Using magnetic resonant x-ray diffraction, we find a complex, yet highly symmetric incommensurate magnetic structure with noncoplanar and counterrotating Ir moments. We propose a minimal Kitaev-Heisenberg Hamiltonian that naturally accounts for all key features of the observed magnetic structure. Our results provide strong evidence that γ-Li(2)IrO(3) realizes a spin Hamiltonian with dominant Kitaev interactions.

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