Lattice vibrations (phonons) in crystals are typically weakly interacting with the electronic degrees of freedom, such as charge and spin fluctuations. Researchers in the team of Prof. Rüegg (DQMP, University of Geneva and LNS, Paul Scherrer Institute) together with collaborators from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Japan and the USA discovered an unexpectedly strong coupling between spin and lattice fluctuations in a triangular quantum magnet, LiCrO2.
The observed magnetoelastic waves or electromagnons carry both electric and magnetic dipole moment. This was proven using complementary studies with non-resonant inelastic X-ray scattering at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and neutron spectroscopy at the Paul Scherrer Institute. The experimental data together with model calculations revealed the underlying coupling mechanism. These results published in Nature Communications could help to develop better multiferroic materials and proved that inelastic X-ray scattering can probe magnetism in strong spin-lattice coupled systems.
Contact: Björn Wehinger