28.03.2017 | 15:41 | Age: 33 days

Ultra-robust high-field magnetization plateau and supersolidity in bond-frustrated MnCr2S4

Frustrated magnets provide a promising avenue for realizing exotic quantum states of matter, such as spin liquids and spin ice or complex spin molecules.

Under an external magnetic field, frustrated magnets can exhibit fractional magnetization plateaus related to definite spin patterns stabilized by field-induced lattice distortions. Magnetization and ultrasound experiments in MnCr2S4 up to 60 T reveal two fascinating features: (i) an extremely robust magnetization plateau with an unusual spin structure and (ii) two intermediate phases, indicating possible realizations of supersolid phases.

The magnetization plateau characterizes fully polarized chromium moments, without any contributions from manganese spins. At 40 T, the middle of the plateau, a regime evolves, where sound waves propagate almost without dissipation. The external magnetic field exactly compensates the Cr–Mn exchange field and decouples Mn and Cr sublattices. In analogy to predictions of quantum lattice-gas models, the changes of the spin order of the manganese ions at the phase boundaries of the magnetization plateau are interpreted as transitions to supersolid phases.

Science Advances 17 Mar 2017: Vol. 3, no. 3