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Title: Spin liquid polymorphism in a correlated electron system on the threshold of superconductivity

We report neutron scattering measurements which reveal spin-liquid polymorphism in an “11” iron chalcogenide superconductor. It occurs when a poorly metallic magnetic state of FeTe is tuned toward superconductivity by substitution of a small amount of tellurium with isoelectronic sulfur. We also observe a liquid-like magnetic response, which is described by the coexistence of two disordered magnetic phases with different local structures whose relative abundance depends on temperature. One is the ferromagnetic (FM) plaquette phase observed in undoped, nonsuperconducting FeTe, which preserves the C 4 symmetry of the underlying square lattice and is favored at high temperatures, whereas the other is the antiferromagnetic plaquette phase with broken C 4 symmetry, which emerges with doping and is predominant at low temperatures. These findings suggest the coexistence of and competition between two distinct liquid states, and a liquid–liquid phase transformation between these states, in the electronic spin system of FeTe 1-x(S,Se) x. We have thus discovered the remarkable physics of competing spin-liquid polymorphs in a correlated electron system approaching superconductivity. These results facilitate an understanding of large swaths of recent experimental data in unconventional superconductors. In particular, the phase with lower C 2 local symmetry, whose emergence precedes superconductivity, naturally accounts formore » a propensity for forming electronic nematic states which have been observed experimentally, in cuprate and iron-based superconductors alike.« less
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  1. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424; KC0402010; ERKCSNX
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; SC00112704; AC02-98CH10886
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 112; Journal Issue: 33; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR); Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 75 CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS, SUPERCONDUCTIVITY AND SUPERFLUIDITY; magnetism; superconductivity; spin liquid; neutron scattering
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1212362; OSTI ID: 1226061