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.
- 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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