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Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Oct 16;115(16):167203. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.167203. Epub 2015 Oct 16.

Rare-Earth Triangular Lattice Spin Liquid: A Single-Crystal Study of YbMgGaO4.

Author information

1
Department of Physics, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, People's Republic of China.
2
State Key Laboratory of Surface Physics, Center for Field Theory and Particle Physics, Department of Physics, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, People's Republic of China.
3
Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, People's Republic of China.
4
High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei 230031, People's Republic of China.
5
Key Laboratory of Materials Physics, Institute of Solid State Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei 230031, People's Republic of China.
6
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, People's Republic of China and Collaborative Innovative Center for Advanced Microstructures, Nanjing 210093, People's Republic of China.

Abstract

YbMgGaO4, a structurally perfect two-dimensional triangular lattice with an odd number of electrons per unit cell and spin-orbit entangled effective spin-1/2 local moments for the Yb(3+) ions, is likely to experimentally realize the quantum spin liquid ground state. We report the first experimental characterization of single-crystal YbMgGaO4 samples. Because of the spin-orbit entanglement, the interaction between the neighboring Yb(3+) moments depends on the bond orientations and is highly anisotropic in the spin space. We carry out thermodynamic and the electron spin resonance measurements to confirm the anisotropic nature of the spin interaction as well as to quantitatively determine the couplings. Our result is a first step towards the theoretical understanding of the possible quantum spin liquid ground state in this system and sheds new light on the search for quantum spin liquids in strong spin-orbit coupled insulators.

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