Hierarchy of Exchange Interactions in the Triangular-Lattice Spin Liquid YbMgGaO4

Xinshu Zhang, Fahad Mahmood, Marcus Daum, Zhiling Dun, Joseph A.M. Paddison, Nicholas J. Laurita, Tao Hong, Haidong Zhou, N. P. Armitage, Martin Mourigal

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The spin-1/2 triangular lattice antiferromagnet YbMgGaO4 has attracted attention recently as a quantum spin-liquid candidate with the possible presence of off-diagonal anisotropic exchange interactions induced by spin-orbit coupling. Whether a quantum spin liquid is stabilized or not depends on the interplay of various exchange interactions with chemical disorder that is inherent to the layered structure of the compound. We combine time-domain terahertz spectroscopy and inelastic neutron scattering measurements in the field-polarized state of YbMgGaO4 to obtain better insight of its exchange interactions. Terahertz spectroscopy in this fashion functions as a high-field electron spin resonance and probes the spin-wave excitations at the Brillouin zone center, ideally complementing neutron scattering. A global spin-wave fit to all our spectroscopic data at fields over 4 T, informed by the analysis of the terahertz spectroscopy linewidths, yields constraints on the disorder-averaged g factors and exchange interactions. Our results paint YbMgGaO4 as an easy-plane XXZ antiferromagnet with the combined and necessary presence of subleading next-nearest neighbor and weak anisotropic off-diagonal nearest-neighbor interactions. Moreover, the obtained g factors are substantially different from previous reports. This work establishes the hierarchy of exchange interactions in YbMgGaO4 from high-field data alone and thus strongly constrains possible mechanisms responsible for the observed spin-liquid phenomenology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031001
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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