Fermionic response from fractionalization in an insulating two-dimensional magnet

J. Nasu, J. Knolle, D. L. Kovrizhin, Y. Motome, R. Moessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conventionally ordered magnets possess bosonic elementary excitations, called magnons. By contrast, no magnetic insulators in more than one dimension are known whose excitations are not bosons but fermions. Theoretically, some quantum spin liquids (QSLs) - new topological phases that can occur when quantum fluctuations preclude an ordered state - are known to exhibit Majorana fermions as quasiparticles arising from fractionalization of spins. Alas, despite much searching, their experimental observation remains elusive. Here, we show that fermionic excitations are remarkably directly evident in experimental Raman scattering data across a broad energy and temperature range in the two-dimensional material α-RuCl 3. This shows the importance of magnetic materials as hosts of Majorana fermions. In turn, this first systematic evaluation of the dynamics of a QSL at finite temperature emphasizes the role of excited states for detecting such exotic properties associated with otherwise hard-to-identify topological QSLs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-915
Number of pages4
JournalNature Physics
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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