Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Correlated Impurities and Intrinsic Spin-Liquid Physics in the Kagome Material Herbertsmithite



Tian-Heng Han, M. R. Norman, J.-J. Wen, Jose Rodriguez Rivera, Joel Helton, Collin L. Broholm, Young S. Lee


New low energy inelastic neutron scattering data on the kagome spin liquid ZnCu3(OD)6Cl2 (Herbertsmithite) reveals diffuse spots near wavevectors (100) and 003/2) for energy transfers hw<0.8 meV (J/20). The momentum dependence differs significantly from the scattering at higher energies arising from the intrinsic kagome spins. We demonstrate that the scattered intensity is consistent with short-range correlations between Cu impurities on the triangular (Zn) intersites. Such a correlated impurity model is consistent with recent NMR data, and as we show, can quantitatively explain specific heat data as well. The inferred antiferromagnetic interactions can be motivated by assuming the Cu defects locally distort the lattice as in the pure Cu analogue, clinoatacamite. The correlated impurity picture advocated here gives credence to models of the low energy dynamic spin susceptibility based on a random bond Heisenberg model.
Physical Review B


Neutron Scattering, Magnetic materials, Spin Liquid, superconductivity.


Han, T. , Norman, M. , Wen, J. , Rodriguez Rivera, J. , Helton, J. , Broholm, C. and Lee, Y. (2016), Correlated Impurities and Intrinsic Spin-Liquid Physics in the Kagome Material Herbertsmithite, Physical Review B, [online], (Accessed July 16, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created August 17, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021