A field trip through spin ice

G. Sala, C. Castelnovo, R. Moessner, S. sondhi, K. Kitagawa, M. Takigawa, R. Higashinaka, Y. Maeno

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Fractionalisation -- the breaking up of an apparently indivisible microscopic degree of freedom -- is one of the most counterintuitive phenomena in many-body physics. Here we study its most fundamental manifestation in spin ice, the only known fractionalised magnetic compound in 3D: we directly visualise the $1/r^2$ magnetic Coulomb field of monopoles which emerge as the atomic magnetic dipoles fractionalise. We analyse the internal magnetic field distribution, relevant for local experimental probes. In particular, we present new zero-field NMR measurements which exhibit excellent agreement with the calculated lineshapes, noting that this experimental technique can in principle measure directly the monopole density in spin ice. The distribution of field strengths is captured by a simple analytical form which exhibits a low density of low-field sites---in apparent disagreement with reported $\mu$SR results. Counterintuitively, the density of low-field locations decreases as the local ferromagnetic correlations imposed by the ice rules weaken.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Publication statusIn preparation - 2012


  • cond-mat.str-el

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