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Field-induced magnetic states in geometrically frustrated SrEr2O4

N. Qureshi, O. Fabelo, P. Manuel, D. D. Khalyavin, E. Lhotel, S.X.M. Riberolles, G. Balakrishnan, O. A. Petrenko

SciPost Phys. 11, 007 (2021) · published 12 July 2021


We report an unusual in-field behaviour of SrEr2O4 for a magnetic field applied along two high-symmetry directions, the a and c axes. This geometrically frustrated magnet hosts two crystallographically inequivalent Er ions, Er1 and Er2, that are both located on triangular zigzag ladders, but only one site, Er1, forms a long-range magnetic order at low temperatures in a zero field. We follow the sequence of peculiar field induced states in SrEr2O4 with detailed single-crystal magnetisation and neutron diffraction experiments. On appli- cation of an external field along the c axis, the long-range antiferromagnetic order of the Er1 ions is rapidly destroyed and replaced, in fields between 2 and 5 kOe, by a state with shorter-range correlations. The change in correlation length coincides with a fast increase in magnetisation during the metamagnetic transition above which a long-range order is reestablished and maintained into the high fields. The high-field ferromagnet-like order is characterised by sig- nificantly different magnetic moments on the two Er sites, with the Er1 site dominating the magnetisation process. For the field applied parallel to the a axis, in the field range of 4 to 12 kOe, the planes of diffuse magnetic scat- tering observed in zero field due to the one-dimensional correlations between the Er2 moments are replaced by much more localised but still diffuse features corresponding to the establishment of an up-up-down structure associated with a one-third magnetisation plateau. Above 14 kOe, a ferromagnet-like high-field order is induced following another phase transition. For this direction of the field, the Er2 moments dictate the succession of transitions while the Er1 mo- ments remain significantly less polarised. A complete field polarisation of both Er sites is not achieved even at 50 kOe for either field direction, reflecting the strongly anisotropic nature of magnetisation process in SrEr2O4.

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