Field-induced quantum criticality in the Kitaev system α-RuCl3

A.U.B. Wolter, L.T. Corredor, L. Janssen, K. Nenkov, S. Schönecker, S.H. Do, K.Y. Choi, R. Albrecht, J. Hunger, T. Doert, M. Vojta, B. Büchner

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Abstract

α-RuCl3 has attracted enormous attention since it has been proposed as a prime candidate to study fractionalized magnetic excitations akin to Kitaev's honeycomb-lattice spin liquid. We have performed a detailed specific-heat investigation at temperatures down to 0.4 K in applied magnetic fields up to 9 T for fields parallel to the ab plane. We find a suppression of the zero-field antiferromagnetic order, together with an increase of the low-temperature specific heat, with increasing field up to μ0Hc ≈ 6.9 T. Above Hc, the magnetic contribution to the low-temperature specific heat is strongly suppressed, implying the opening of a spin-excitation gap. Our data point toward a field-induced quantum critical point at Hc; this is supported by universal scaling behavior near Hc. Remarkably, the data also reveal the existence of a small characteristic energy scale well below 1 meV, above which the excitation spectrum changes qualitatively. We relate the data to theoretical calculations based on a J1-K11-J3 honeycomb model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041405
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review B
Volume96
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

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