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Research Highlight | Materials Science Division

Orbital degeneracy lifted liquid’ state—precursor to ordered quantum matter

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers explained a local, fluctuating, orbital-degeneracy-lifted state. A phenomenon likely to be widespread amongst diverse classes of partially filled nominally degenerate d-electron systems.

Scientific Achievement

Using the thiospinel CuIr2S4 as a prototype, we have identified a new framework for understanding lattice-charge coupling in quantum materials: orbital degeneracy lifting (ODL), an effect in which electronic degeneracies generate fluctuating local symmetry-broken states precursory to long range order.

Significance and Impact

Analogous ODL states are expected to be widespread among quantum materials with partially filled d-bands, providing a unifying construct to understand phenomena in a range of technologically relevant systems.

Research Details

  • X-ray atomic pair distribution functions were measured on a fine temperature and composition grids on CuIr2S4 powder, and on Cr and Zn doped versions, at 28-ID-2@NSLS-II.
  • The local structure requires a broken symmetry model to fit the PDF even when the average structure is cubic.

Sample syntheses and characterizations were performed at Argonne and Brookhaven national laboratories.


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