Chin. Phys. Lett.  2018, Vol. 35 Issue (11): 117501    DOI: 10.1088/0256-307X/35/11/117501
Rare-Earth Chalcogenides: A Large Family of Triangular Lattice Spin Liquid Candidates
Weiwei Liu1,2†, Zheng Zhang1,2†, Jianting Ji1†, Yixuan Liu2, Jianshu Li1,2, Xiaoqun Wang3, Hechang Lei2**, Gang Chen4**, Qingming Zhang1,5**
1National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics and Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190
2Department of Physics and Beijing Key Laboratory of Opto-electronic Functional Materials & Micro-nano Devices, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872
3Department of Physics and Astronomy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240
4State Key Laboratory of Surface Physics and Department of Physics, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
5School of Physical Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000
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Weiwei Liu, Zheng Zhang, Jianting Ji et al  2018 Chin. Phys. Lett. 35 117501
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Abstract Frustrated quantum magnets are expected to host many exotic quantum spin states like quantum spin liquid (QSL), and have attracted numerous interest in modern condensed matter physics. The discovery of the triangular lattice spin liquid candidate YbMgGaO$_4$ stimulated an increasing attention on the rare-earth-based frustrated magnets with strong spin-orbit coupling. Here we report the synthesis and characterization of a large family of rare-earth chalcogenides AReCh$_2$ (A = alkali or monovalent ions, Re = rare earth, Ch = O, S, Se). The family compounds share the same structure ($R\bar{3}m$) as YbMgGaO$_4$, and antiferromagnetically coupled rare-earth ions form perfect triangular layers that are well separated along the $c$-axis. Specific heat and magnetic susceptibility measurements on NaYbO$_2$, NaYbS$_2$ and NaYbSe$_2$ single crystals and polycrystals, reveal no structural or magnetic transition down to 50 mK. The family, having the simplest structure and chemical formula among the known QSL candidates, removes the issue on possible exchange disorders in YbMgGaO$_4$. More excitingly, the rich diversity of the family members allows tunable charge gaps, variable exchange coupling, and many other advantages. This makes the family an ideal platform for fundamental research of QSLs and its promising applications.
Received: 24 September 2018      Published: 30 September 2018
PACS:  75.10.Kt (Quantum spin liquids, valence bond phases and related phenomena)  
  75.30.Et (Exchange and superexchange interactions)  
  75.30.Gw (Magnetic anisotropy)  
Fund: Supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China under Grant Nos 2016YFA0300504, 2017YFA0302904 and 2016YFA0301001, and the Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos 11774419, 11474357, 11822412, 11774423 and 11574394.
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Weiwei Liu
Zheng Zhang
Jianting Ji
Yixuan Liu
Jianshu Li
Xiaoqun Wang
Hechang Lei
Gang Chen
Qingming Zhang
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