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Title: Monoclinic crystal structure of α - RuCl 3 and the zigzag antiferromagnetic ground state

We have proposed the layered honeycomb magnet α - RuCl 3 as a candidate to realize a Kitaev spin model with strongly frustrated, bond-dependent, anisotropic interactions between spin-orbit entangled j eff = 1/2 Ru 3 + magnetic moments. We report a detailed study of the three-dimensional crystal structure using x-ray diffraction on untwinned crystals combined with structural relaxation calculations. We consider several models for the stacking of honeycomb layers and find evidence for a parent crystal structure with a monoclinic unit cell corresponding to a stacking of layers with a unidirectional in-plane offset, with occasional in-plane sliding stacking faults, in contrast with the currently assumed trigonal three-layer stacking periodicity. We also report electronic band-structure calculations for the monoclinic structure, which find support for the applicability of the j eff = 1/2 picture once spin-orbit coupling and electron correlations are included. Of the three nearest-neighbor Ru-Ru bonds that comprise the honeycomb lattice, the monoclinic structure makes the bond parallel to the b axis nonequivalent to the other two, and we propose that the resulting differences in the magnitude of the anisotropic exchange along these bonds could provide a natural mechanism to explain the previously reported spin gap in powder inelastic neutronmore » scattering measurements, in contrast to spin models based on the three-fold symmetric trigonal structure, which predict a gapless spectrum within linear spin wave theory. Our susceptibility measurements on both powders and stacked crystals, as well as magnetic neutron powder diffraction, show a single magnetic transition upon cooling below T N ≈ 13 K. Our analysis of our neutron powder diffraction data provides evidence for zigzag magnetic order in the honeycomb layers with an antiferromagnetic stacking between layers. Magnetization measurements on stacked single crystals in pulsed field up to 60 T show a single transition around 8 T for in-plane fields followed by a gradual, asymptotic approach to magnetization saturation, as characteristic of strongly anisotropic exchange interactions.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [6] ;  [6] ;  [2]
  1. Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom). Clarendon Lab.; Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Oxford (United Kingdom). Rutherford Appleton Lab., ISIS Neutron Source
  2. Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom). Clarendon Lab.
  3. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States). National High Magnetic Field Lab. (MagLab)
  4. Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Oxford (United Kingdom). Rutherford Appleton Lab., ISIS Neutron Source
  5. Naval Research Lab. (NRL), Washington, DC (United States)
  6. Univ. of Frankfurt (Germany). Inst. for Theoretical Physics
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1098-0121; PRBMDO
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physical Review. B, Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 92; Journal Issue: 23; Journal ID: ISSN 1098-0121
American Physical Society (APS)
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States