Chin. Phys. Lett.  2021, Vol. 38 Issue (4): 047502    DOI: 10.1088/0256-307X/38/4/047502
Rare-Earth Chalcohalides: A Family of van der Waals Layered Kitaev Spin Liquid Candidates
Jianting Ji1†, Mengjie Sun1,2†, Yanzhen Cai3, Yimeng Wang1,2, Yingqi Sun1,2, Wei Ren3, Zheng Zhang1,2, Feng Jin1, and Qingming Zhang3,1*
1Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
2Department of Physics, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
3School of Physical Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
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Jianting Ji, Mengjie Sun, Yanzhen Cai et al  2021 Chin. Phys. Lett. 38 047502
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Abstract The Kitaev spin liquid (KSL) system has attracted tremendous attention in recent years because of its fundamental significance in condensed matter physics and promising applications in fault-tolerant topological quantum computation. Material realization of such a system remains a major challenge in the field due to the unusual configuration of anisotropic spin interactions, though great effort has been made before. Here we reveal that rare-earth chalcohalides REChX (RE = rare earth; Ch = O, S, Se, Te; X = F, Cl, Br, I) can serve as a family of KSL candidates. Most family members have the typical SmSI-type structure with a high symmetry of $R\bar{3}m$, and rare-earth magnetic ions form an undistorted honeycomb lattice. The strong spin-orbit coupling of $4f$ electrons intrinsically offers anisotropic spin interactions as required by the Kitaev model. We have grown the crystals of YbOCl and synthesized the polycrystals of SmSI, ErOF, HoOF and DyOF, and made careful structural characterizations. We carry out magnetic and heat capacity measurements down to 1.8 K and find no obvious magnetic transition in all the samples but DyOF. The van der Waals interlayer coupling highlights the true two-dimensionality of the family which is vital for the exact realization of Abelian/non-Abelian anyons, and the graphene-like feature will be a prominent advantage for developing miniaturized devices. The family is expected to act as an inspiring material platform for the exploration of KSL physics.
Received: 09 March 2021      Published: 02 April 2021
PACS:  75.10.Kt (Quantum spin liquids, valence bond phases and related phenomena)  
  75.30.Gw (Magnetic anisotropy)  
  75.40.Cx (Static properties (order parameter, static susceptibility, heat capacities, critical exponents, etc.))  
  71.70.Ej (Spin-orbit coupling, Zeeman and Stark splitting, Jahn-Teller effect)  
Fund: Supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant Nos. 2017YFA0302904 and 2016YFA0300504), the National Natural Science Founation of China (Grant Nos. U1932215 and 11774419), and the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB33010100).
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Jianting Ji
Mengjie Sun
Yanzhen Cai
Yimeng Wang
Yingqi Sun
Wei Ren
Zheng Zhang
Feng Jin
and Qingming Zhang
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