Materializing Rival Ground States in the Barlowite Family of Kagome Magnets: Quantum Spin Liquid, Spin Ordered, and Valence Bond Crystal States

14 Apr 2020  ·  Smaha Rebecca W., He Wei, Jiang Jack Mingde, Titus Charles J., Wen Jiajia, Jiang Yi-Fan, Sheckelton John P., Wang Suyin Grass, Chen Yu-Sheng, Teat Simon J., Aczel Adam A., Zhao Yang, Xu Guangyong, Lynn Jeffrey W., Jiang Hong-Chen, Lee Young S. ·

The spin-$\frac{1}{2}$ kagome antiferromagnet is considered an ideal host for a quantum spin liquid ground state. We find that when the bonds of the kagome lattice are modulated with a periodic pattern, new quantum ground states emerge... Newly synthesized crystalline barlowite (Cu$_4$(OH)$_6$FBr) and Zn-substituted barlowite demonstrate the delicate interplay between singlet states and spin order on the spin-$\frac{1}{2}$ kagome lattice. Comprehensive structural measurements demonstrate that our new variant of barlowite maintains hexagonal symmetry at low temperatures with an arrangement of distorted and undistorted kagome triangles, for which numerical simulations predict a pinwheel valence bond crystal (VBC) state instead of a quantum spin liquid (QSL). The presence of interlayer spins eventually leads to an interesting pinwheel $q=0$ magnetic order. Partially Zn-substituted barlowite (Cu$_{3.44}$Zn$_{0.56}$(OH)$_6$FBr) has an ideal kagome lattice and shows QSL behavior, indicating a surprising robustness of the QSL against interlayer impurities. The magnetic susceptibility is similar to that of herbertsmithite, even though the Cu$^{2+}$ impurities are above the percolation threshold for the interlayer lattice and they couple more strongly to the nearest kagome moment. This system is a unique playground displaying QSL, VBC, and spin order, furthering our understanding of these highly competitive quantum states. read more

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Strongly Correlated Electrons