Competing Antiferromagnetic-Ferromagnetic States in d7 Kitaev Honeycomb Magnet
Hector Vivanco, Benjamin Trump, Craig Brown, Tyrel M. McQueen
The Kitaev model is a rare example of an analytically solvable and physically instantiable Hamiltonian yielding a topological quantum spin liquid ground state. Here we report signatures of Kitaev spin liquid physics in the honeycomb magnet Li3Co2SbO6, built of high-spin d7 (Co2+) ions, in contrast to the more typical low-spin d5 electron configurations in the presence of large spin-orbit coupling. Neutron powder diffraction measurements, heat capacity, and magnetization studies support the development of a long-range antiferromagnetic order space group of CC2/m, below TN = 11 K at υ0H = 0 T. The magnetic entropy recovered between T = 2 K and 50 K is estimated to be 0.6Rln2, in good agreement with the value expected for systems close to a Kitaev quantum spin liquid state. The temperature-dependent magnetic order parameter demonstrates a β value of 0.19(3), consistent with XY anisotropy and in-plane ordering, with Ising-like interactions between layers. Further, we observe a spin-flop driven crossover to ferromagnetic order with space group of C2/m under an applied magnetic field of υ0H ≈ 0.7 T at T = 2 K. Magnetic structure analysis demonstrates these magnetic states are competing at finite applied magnetic fields even below the spin-flop transition. Both the d7 compass model, a quantitative comparison of the specific heat of Li3Co2SbO6, and related honeycomb cobaltates to the anisotropic Kitaev model further support proximity to a Kitaev spin liquid state. This material demonstrates the rich playground of high-spin d7 systems for spin liquid candidates, and complements known d5 Ir- and Ru-based materials.