Spiral spin-liquid and the emergence of a vortex-like state in MnSc$_2$S$_4$

Abstract : Spirals and helices are common motifs of long-range order in magnetic solids, and they may also be organized into more complex emergent structures such as magnetic skyrmions and vortices. A new type of spiral state, the spiral spin-liquid, in which spins fluctuate collectively as spirals, has recently been predicted to exist. Here, using neutron scattering techniques, we experimentally prove the existence of a spiral spin-liquid in MnSc$_2$S$_4$ by directly observing the ‘spiral surface’—a continuous surface of spiral propagation vectors in reciprocal space. We elucidate the multi-step ordering behaviour of the spiral spin-liquid, and discover a vortex-like triple-$q$ phase on application of a magnetic field. Our results prove the effectiveness of the $J_1–J_2$ Hamiltonian on the diamond lattice as a model for the spiral spin-liquid state in MnSc$_2$S$_4$, and also demonstrate a new way to realize a magnetic vortex lattice through frustrated interactions.
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Shang Gao, Oksana Zaharko, Jonathan S. White, Gregory S. Tucker, Bertrand Roessli, et al.. Spiral spin-liquid and the emergence of a vortex-like state in MnSc$_2$S$_4$. Nature Physics, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 13, pp.157-161. ⟨10.1038/NPHYS3914⟩. ⟨cea-01899568⟩

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