Magnetic nano-fluctuations in a frustrated magnet

Frustrated systems exhibit remarkable properties due to the high degeneracy of their ground states. Stabilised by competing interactions, a rich diversity of typically nanometre-sized phase structures appear in polymer and colloidal systems, while the surface of ice pre-melts due to geometrically frustrated interactions. Atomic spin systems where magnetic interactions are frustrated by lattice geometry provide a fruitful source of emergent phenomena, such as fractionalised excitations analogous to magnetic monopoles. The degeneracy inherent in frustrated systems may prevail all the way down to absolute zero temperature, or it may be lifted by small perturbations or entropic effects. In the geometrically frustrated Ising--like magnet Ca3Co2O6, we follow the temporal and spatial evolution of nanoscale magnetic fluctuations firmly embedded inside the spin--density--wave magnetic structure. These fluctuations are a signature of a competing ferrimagnetic phase with an incommensurability that is different from, but determined by the host. As the temperature is lowered, the fluctuations slow down into a super-paramagnetic regime of stable spatiotemporal nano-structures.

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 Record created 2014-04-30, last modified 2019-12-05

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