Skip to main content
Research Highlight | Materials Science

A nematic spin liquid phase with incipient ferroelectricity in herbertsmithite

In a study published in Physical Review Research 2, researchers used theoretical tools to analyze the crystal distortions in copper materials that produce unique electronic properties.

Scientific Achievement

Motivated by second harmonic generation data, we have studied possible crystal distortions in herbertsmithite and related copper materials.

Significance and Impact

The resulting valence bond patterns define a nematic spin liquid that breaks inversion. The space groups can also exhibit ferroelectricity.

Research Details

  • We used group theoretical tools (AMPLIMODES and ISODISTORT) to analyze possible crystal distortions consistent with the second harmonic data.
  • We catalogued valence bond arrangements for a variety of copper kagome materials that exhibit dimer, zig-zag, pinwheel, herringbone and stripe patterns.


Download this highlight

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.