Scientific Highlights from Research Division
Research with Neutrons and Muons (NUM)
Quantum spin liquids are exotic states of matter that form when strongly frustrated magnetic interactions induce a highly entangled quantum paramagnet far below the energy scale of the magnetic interactions. Three-dimensional cases are especially challenging due to the significant reduction of the influence of quantum fluctuations. Here, we report the magnetic characterization of K2Ni2(SO4)3 forming a three-dimensional network of Ni2+ spins.
Materials with strongly correlated electrons often exhibit interesting physical properties. An example of these materials is the layered oxide perovskite Sr2RuO4, which has been intensively investigated due to its unusual properties. Whilst the debate on the symmetry of the superconducting state in Sr2RuO4 is still ongoing, a deeper understanding of the Sr2RuO4 normal state appears crucial as this is the background in which electron pairing occurs. Here, by using low-energy muon spin spectroscopy we discover the existence of surface magnetism in Sr2RuO4 in its normal state.
A specialSciPost volume, entitled “Review of Particle Physics at PSI”, has recently been completed.
The European Spallation Source (ESS) is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden and is set to become the most powerful neutron source in Europe and world-wide. The PSI-ESS project is delivering state-of-the-art contributions to five instruments at ESS, which will be home to a suite of 15 novel instruments. Among the five PSI instruments, the reflectometer ESTIA stands out as it is delivered in its entirety by PSI ...
The crystal structure and magnetic correlations in triangular antiferromagnet FeGa2S4 are studied by x-ray diffraction, magnetic susceptibility, neutron diffraction, and neutron inelastic scattering. We report significant mixing at the cation sites and disentangle magnetic properties dominated by major and minor magnetic sites.
GeTe that exhibits a strong anharmonicity and a ferroelectric phase transition between the rhombohedral and cubic structures has emerged as one of the leading thermoelectric materials. Herein, combining molecular dynamics simulations and inelastic neutron scattering measurements, the lattice dynamics in GeTe have been investigated to reveal the soft-mode mechanisms across the phase transition.
Magnetic anisotropy is anticipated to govern the formation of exotic spin textures reported recently in cubic chiral magnets, like low-temperature tilted conical and skyrmion lattice (SkL) states and metastable SkLs with various lattice geometry. Motivated by these findings, we quantified the cubic anisotropy in a series of CoZnMn-type cubic chiral magnets. We found that the strength of anisotropy is highly enhanced towards low temperatures. Moreover, not only the magnitude but also the character of cubic anisotropy drastically varies upon changing the Co/Mn ratio.
Unsplit superconducting and time reversal symmetry breaking transitions in Sr2RuO4 under hydrostatic pressure and disorder
There is considerable evidence that the superconducting state of Sr2RuO4 breaks time reversal symmetry. In the experiments showing time reversal symmetry breaking, its onset temperature, TTRSB, is generally found to match the critical temperature, Tc, within resolution. In combination with evidence for even parity, this result has led to consideration of a dxz ± idyz order parameter.
At PSI, researchers come across exotic phenomena such as frustrated magnets and nano-vortices, which may one day enable better data storage.
CeRh2As2, a nonsymmorphic heavy fermion material, was recently reported to host a remarkable temperature versus z-axis magnetic-field phase diagram with two superconducting phases. In this material, the two inequivalent Ce sites per unit cell, related by inversion symmetry, introduce a sublattice structure corresponding to an extra internal degree of freedom. In this work, we propose a classification of the possible superconducting states in CeRh2As2 from the two Ce-sites' perspective.
RENiO3 Single Crystals (RE = Nd, Sm, Gd, Dy, Y, Ho, Er, Lu) Grown from Molten Salts under 2000 bar of Oxygen Gas Pressure
Schematic representation of the method used to grow RENiO3 nickelate single crystals covering the full 4f series and Y. This novel procedure, based on the use of moderate oxygen gas pressures (2000 bar), solvothermal growth in a temperature gradient, and highly reactive eutectic salt mixtures as fluxes, yields prismatic-shaped crystals with flat facets and sizes up to ∼75 μm.
The Kitaev quantum spin liquid epitomizes an entangled topological state, for which twoflavors of fractionalized low-energy excitations are predicted: the itinerant Majorana fermion and the Z2 gauge flux. It was proposed recently that fingerprints of fractional excitations are encoded in the phonon spectra of Kitaev quantum spin liquids through a novel fractional- excitation-phonon coupling. Here, we detect anomalous phonon effects in α-RuCl3 using inelastic X-ray scattering with meV resolution.
Intertwining quantum order and non-trivial topology is at the frontier of condensed matter physics. A charge- density-wave-like order with orbital currents has been pro- posed for achieving the quantum anomalous Hall effect in topological materials and for the hidden phase in cuprate high-temperature superconductors. However, the experimental realization of such an order is challenging. Here we use high-resolution scanning tunnelling microscopy to discover an unconventional chiral charge order in a kagome material, KV3Sb5, with both a topological band structure and a superconducting ground state.
The silver ruthenium oxide AgRuO3 consists of honeycomb Ru25+O62− layers and can be considered and can be considered an analogue of SrRu2O6 with a different intercalation. We present measurements of magnetic susceptibility and specific heat on AgRuO3 single crystals, which reveal a sharp antiferromagnetic transition at 342(3) K. The electrical transport in single crystals of AgRuO3 is determined by a combination of activated conduction over an intrinsic semiconducting gap of ≈100 meV and carriers trapped and thermally released from defects.
Various imaging methods in materials research have pursued the characterization of material composition and its change in space and time. When it comes to liquid matter far from equilibrium, such as mixing and evaporating mixtures of solutes and solvents, of paramount importance in diverse solution-processing methods, the quantitative and in situ characterization remains challenging. Our research with the evaporating ...
Ultrafast manipulation of magnetic states holds great promise for progress in our understanding of new quantum states and technical applications, but our current knowledge of transient magnetism is very limited. Our work elucidates the nature of transient magnetism in gapped antiferromagnets using Sr3Ir2O7 as a model material. We find that transient magnetic fluctuations are trapped throughout the entire Brillouin zone while remaining present beyond the time that is required to restore the original spin network.
Multiple quantum phase transitions of different nature in the topological kagome magnet Co3Sn2−xInxS2
The exploration of topological electronic phases that result from strong electronic correlations is a frontier in condensed matter physics. One class of systems that is currently emerging as a platform for such studies are so-called kagome magnets based on transition metals. Using muon spin-rotation, we explore magnetic correlations in the kagome magnet Co3Sn2−xInxS2 as a function of In-doping, providing putative evidence for an intriguing incommensurate helimagnetic (HM) state. Our results show that, while the undoped sample exhibits an out-of-plane ferromagnetic (FM) ground state, at 5% of In-doping the system enters a state in which FM and in-plane antiferromagnetic (AFM) phases coexist.
Chiral superconductors are novel topological materials with finite angular momentum Cooper pairs circulating around a unique chiral axis, thereby spontaneously breaking time-reversal symmetry. They are rather scarce and usually feature triplet pairing: a canonical example is the chiral p-wave state realized in the A-phase of superfluid He3. Chiral triplet super- conductors are, however, topologically fragile with the corresponding gapless boundary modes only weakly protected against symmetry-preserving perturbations in contrast to their singlet counterparts. Using muon spin relaxation measurements ...
Revealing the predominant driving force behind symmetry breaking in correlated materials is sometimes a formidable task due to the intertwined nature of different degrees of freedom. This is the case for La2−xSrxNiO4+δ, in which coupled incommensurate charge and spin stripes form at low temperatures. Here, we use resonant x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy to study the temporal stability and domain memory of the charge and spin stripes in La2−xSrxNiO4+δ.
Frustration-driven magnetic fluctuations as the origin of the low-temperature skyrmion phase in Co7Zn7Mn6
Magnetic skyrmions in chiral cubic helimagnets, are stabilized by thermal fluctuations over a narrow region directly below the magnetic ordering temperature. Due to often being touted for use in applications, there is high demand to identify new mechanism that can expand the equilibrium skyrmion phases where these topological vortices may display an enhanced robustness against external perturbations, such as magnetic fields, due to a larger magnetic order parameter.