Monday, March 12, 2018

A new class of "spin ice" materials

Two of my UQ colleagues have just finished a nice paper:
Spin-state ice in geometrically frustrated spin-crossover materials 
Jace Cruddas, B. J. Powell

The paper brings together two fascinating topics I have written about before, spin crossover materials and spin ice. One thing that it is a little worrying and disappointing about spin ice materials is that there seem to be only two (?) of them!
This paper argues that some spin crossover materials may be a new class of materials that realise ice physics (residual entropy, emergent gauge fields, monopoles, ...) Here, the Ising spin variable is the two possible spin states (High Spin and Low Spin). These materials have the potential advantage that they may be tuneable due to the creativity of synthetic chemists.
The mechanism of the interaction between spins is rather unique and interesting. It is not an exchange interaction but rather and effective interaction mediated by the spin-lattice interaction, which in these compounds is arguably large.
It is also interesting that the sign of the frustrating interactions (which are key to the stability of the ice) is determined by the anharmonic potential associated with intermolecular interactions in the spin crossover compound.

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