Non-coplanar helimagnetism in the layered van-der-Waals metal DyTe3

Van-der-Waals magnetic materials can be exfoliated to realize ultrathin sheets or interfaces with highly controllable optical or spintronics responses. In majority, these are collinear ferro-, ferri-, or antiferromagnets, with a particular scarcity of lattice-incommensurate helimagnets of defined left- or right-handed rotation sense, or helicity. Here, we report polarized neutron scattering experiments on DyTe3, whose layered structure has highly metallic tellurium layers separated by double-slabs of dysprosium square nets. 

We reveal cycloidal (conical) magnetic textures, with coupled commensurate and incommensurate order parameters, and probe the evolution of this ground state in a magnetic field. The observations are well explained by a one-dimensional spin model, with an off-diagonal on-site term that is spatially modulated by DyTe3’s unconventional charge density wave (CDW) order. The CDW-driven term cou- ples to antiferromagnetism, or to the net magnetization in an applied magnetic field, and creates a complex magnetic phase diagram indicative of competing interactions in this easily cleavable van-der-Waals helimagnet.

Facility: SINQ

Reference: S. Akatsuka et al, Nature Communications 15, 4291 (2024)

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