Fundamental electronic principles underlying all transition metal compounds are the symmetry and filling of the d-electron orbitals and the influence of this filling on structural configurations and responses. Here we use a sensitive local structural technique, x-ray atomic pair distribution function analysis, to reveal the presence of fluctuating local-structural distortions at high temperature in one such compound, CuIr2S4. We show that this hitherto overlooked fluctuating symmetry-lowering is electronic in origin and will modify the energy-level spectrum and electronic and magnetic properties. The explanation is a local, fluctuating, orbital-degeneracy-lifted state. The natural extension of our result would be that this phenomenon is likely to be widespread amongst diverse classes of partially filled nominally degenerate d-electron systems, with potentially broad implications for our understanding of their properties.




Work at Brookhaven National Laboratory was supported by US DOE, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under contract DE-SC0012704. Work in the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering Division. This research used 28-ID-2 beamline of the National Synchrotron Light Source II, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Keywords and Phrases

Electronic Equipment; Fluctuating Asymmetry; Magnetic Property; Orbital Forcing; Transition Element, Article; High Temperature; Precursor; X Ray

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Publication Date

01 Dec 2019

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