What is it about?

The Kitaev-Heisenberg model, a quantum compass model that describes a set of spin-1/2 moments in a honeycomb lattice, yields exciting ground states, such as gapless spin liquids and a variety of spin ordered states. Among the different materials that can host Kitaev-Heisenberg physics, α-RuCl3 has played a starring role, bringing scientists a step closer to fault-tolerant topological quantum computing. However, α-RuCl3, like other candidates for the experimental realization of the Kitaev-Heisenberg model, is highly insulating, reducing the experimental probes available to study the ground states in these materials. In this work, we make use of a specialized technique to reach, through electronic transport measurements, temperatures where α-RuCl3 is highly insulating and becomes a zig-zag antiferromagnet. We find evidence of of the transport mechanism ruling our thin crystals and spot the signature of a structural phase transition.

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Why is it important?

Our work demonstrates the possibility of reaching, through specialized high impedance measurements, the thrilling ground states predicted for α-RuCl3 in the frame of the Kitaev-Heisenberg model, at temperatures where this material is highly insulating. Our experiments bring new information on the transport mechanisms in this material in a wide temperature range as well as on important characteristic quantities such as the localization length of the impurities in a thin α-RuCl3 crystal.


The technique presented in this paper opens an opportunity to study through electronic transport other thrilling quantum materials that are highly insulating at low temperatures.

Claudia Ojeda-Aristizabal
California State University Long Beach

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Electronic transport mechanisms in a thin crystal of the Kitaev candidate α -RuCl3 probed through guarded high impedance measurements, Applied Physics Letters, June 2023, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0146141.
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