Frustration-induced nanometre-scale inhomogeneity in a triangular antiferromagnet
Researchers Andrej Zorko, Matej Andrej Komelj, and Denis Arčon from Institute »Jožef Stefan« and Faculty of mathematics and physics in collaboration with Othon Adamopoulosom and Alexandros Lappas from Institute of Electronic Structure & Laser, FORTH, Heraklion, Greece, discovered a novel complex state of matter. They published their discovery in the recent article Frustration-induced nanometre-scale inhomogeneity in a triangular antiferromagnet in the journal Nature Communications. In this work they report a paradigmatic magnetostructurally inhomogenous ground state of the geometrically frustrated α-NaMnO2 that stems from the system's aspiration to remove magnetic degeneracy and is possible only due to the existence of near-degenerate crystal structures. Using different experimental techniques they show that the spin configuration of a monoclinic phase is disrupted by magnetically short-range-ordered nanoscale triclinic regions. Such phase separation has never been observed before only in the magnetostructural channel but is reminiscent of charge driven phase inhomogeneities of otherwise chemically homogenous electronic systems in high-Tc cuprates or manganites showing colossal magnetoresistance.
A. Zorko, O. Adamopoulos, M. Komelj, D. Arčon & A. Lappas, Nature Communications 5, 3222 (2014).