Kondo screening in a Majorana metal

Kondo impurities provide a nontrivial probe to unravel the character of the excitations of a quantum spin liquid. In the S = 1/2 Kitaev model on the honeycomb lattice, Kondo impurities embedded in the spin-liquid host can be screened by itinerant Majorana fermions via gauge-flux binding. Here, we report experimental signatures of metallic-like Kondo screening at intermediate temperatures in the Kitaev honeycomb material α-RuCl3 with dilute Cr3+ (S = 3/2) impurities. The static magnetic susceptibility, the muon Knight shift, and the muon spin-relaxation rate all feature logarithmic divergences, a hallmark of a metallic Kondo effect. Concurrently, the linear coefficient of the magnetic specific heat is large in the same temperature regime, indicating the presence of a host Majorana metal. This observation opens new avenues for exploring uncharted Kondo physics in insulating quantum magnets.

Facility: SμS

Reference: S. Lee et al, Nature Communications 14, 7405 (2023)

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