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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Realization of a three-dimensional spin-anisotropic harmonic honeycomb iridate.

  • Author(s): Modic, KA
  • Smidt, Tess E
  • Kimchi, Itamar
  • Breznay, Nicholas P
  • Biffin, Alun
  • Choi, Sungkyun
  • Johnson, Roger D
  • Coldea, Radu
  • Watkins-Curry, Pilanda
  • McCandless, Gregory T
  • Chan, Julia Y
  • Gandara, Felipe
  • Islam, Z
  • Vishwanath, Ashvin
  • Shekhter, Arkady
  • McDonald, Ross D
  • Analytis, James G
  • et al.

Spin and orbital quantum numbers play a key role in the physics of Mott insulators, but in most systems they are connected only indirectly--via the Pauli exclusion principle and the Coulomb interaction. Iridium-based oxides (iridates) introduce strong spin-orbit coupling directly, such that these numbers become entwined together and the Mott physics attains a strong orbital character. In the layered honeycomb iridates this is thought to generate highly spin-anisotropic magnetic interactions, coupling the spin to a given spatial direction of exchange and leading to strongly frustrated magnetism. Here we report a new iridate structure that has the same local connectivity as the layered honeycomb and exhibits striking evidence for highly spin-anisotropic exchange. The basic structural units of this material suggest that a new family of three-dimensional structures could exist, the 'harmonic honeycomb' iridates, of which the present compound is the first example.

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