Journal article

Multiferroicity in the generic easy-plane triangular lattice antiferromagnet RbFe(MoO4)(2)

RbFe(MoO4)(2) is a quasi-two-dimensional (quasi-2D) triangular lattice antiferromagnet (TLA) that displays a zero-field magnetically driven multiferroic phase with a chiral spin structure. By inelastic neutron scattering, we determine quantitatively the spin Hamiltonian. We show that the easy-plane anisotropy is nearly 1/3 of the dominant spin exchange, making RbFe(MoO4)(2) an excellent system for studying the physics of the model 2D easy-plane TLA. Our measurements demonstrate magnetic-field-induced fluctuations in this material to stabilize the generic finite-field phases of the 2D XY TLA. We further explain how Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interactions can generate ferroelectricity only in the zero-field phase. Our conclusion is that multiferroicity in RbFe(MoO4)(2), and its absence at high fields, results from the generic properties of the 2D XY TLA.


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