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Title: Atomic-scale observation of structural and electronic orders in the layered compound α-RuCl 3

A pseudospin-1/2 Mott phase on a honeycomb lattice is proposed to host the celebrated two-dimensional Kitaev model which has an elusive quantum spin liquid ground state, and fascinating physics relevant to the development of future templates towards topological quantum bits. Here we report a comprehensive, atomically resolved real-space study by scanning transmission electron and scanning tunnelling microscopies on a novel layered material displaying Kitaev physics, -RuCl3. Our local crystallography analysis reveals considerable variations in the geometry of the ligand sublattice in thin films of -RuCl3 that opens a way to realization of a spatially inhomogeneous magnetic ground state at the nanometre length scale. Using scanning tunnelling techniques, we observe the electronic energy gap of 0.25 eV and intra-unit cell symmetry breaking of charge distribution in individual -RuCl3 surface layer. The corresponding charge-ordered pattern has a fine structure associated with two different types of charge disproportionation at Cl-terminated surface.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [3]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  3. ORNL
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY
OSTI Identifier:
1337025