Locking of iridium magnetic moments to the correlated rotation of oxygen octahedra in Sr2IrO4 revealed by x-ray resonant scattering
Sr2IrO4 is a prototype of the class of Mott insulators in the strong spin-orbit interaction (SOI) limit described by a J(eff) = 1/2 ground state. In Sr2IrO4, the strong SOI is predicted to manifest itself in the locking of the canting of the magnetic moments to the correlated rotation by 11.8(1)degrees of the oxygen octahedra that characterizes its distorted layered perovskite structure. Using x-ray resonant scattering at the Ir L-3 edge we have measured accurately the intensities of Bragg peaks arising from different components of the magnetic structure. From a careful comparison of integrated intensities of peaks due to basal-plane antiferromagnetism, with those due to b-axis ferromagnetism, we deduce a canting of the magnetic moments of 12.2(8)degrees. We thus confirm that in Sr2IrO4 the magnetic moments rigidly follow the rotation of the oxygen octahedra, indicating that, even in the presence of significant non-cubic structural distortions, it is a close realization of the J(eff) = 1/2 state.