An international team of scientists, including ICTS faculty member Subhro Bhattacharjee, has observed an unusual quantum state of matter – a spin-orbital liquid phase – in the pyrochlore oxide Pr2Zr2O 7. Suppressing orbital order down to low temperatures is extremely difficult, and Pr2Zr2O 7 serves as a rare counterexample. Here, the spin and orbital degrees of freedom gets interlocked in such a way that fluctuation of one necessitates fluctuation of the other. The team found that the resultant spin-orbital moments remain dynamic down to extremely low temperature resulting in a correlated spin-orbital liquid state.
The experiments were conducted in the University of Tokyo, MPI for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, the Helmhotz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The theoretical efforts involved ICTS and MPI for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden.