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Journal Article

Fermionic response from fractionalization in an insulating two-dimensional magnet


Moessner,  Roderich
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Nasu, J., Knolle, J., Kovrizhin, D. L., Motome, Y., & Moessner, R. (2016). Fermionic response from fractionalization in an insulating two-dimensional magnet. Nature Physics, 12(10), 912-915. doi:10.1038/NPHYS3809.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-BC41-E
Conventionally ordered magnets possess bosonic elementary excitations, called magnons. By contrast, no magnetic insulators in more than one dimension are known whose excitations are not bosons but fermions. Theoretically, some quantum spin liquids (QSLs)(1)- new topological phases that can occur when quantum fluctuations preclude an ordered state-are known to exhibit Majorana fermions(2) as quasiparticles arising from fractionalization of spins(3). Alas, despite much searching, their experimental observation remains elusive. Here, we show that fermionic excitations are remarkably directly evident in experimental Raman scattering date(4) across a broad energy and temperature range in the two-dimensional material alpha-RuCl3. This shows the importance of magnetic materials as hosts of Majorana fermions. In turn, this first systematic evaluation of the dynamics of a QSL at finite temperature emphasizes the role of excited states for detecting such exotic properties associated with otherwise hard-to-identify topological QSLs.