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Volborthite: a Highly Frustrated 2D, S=1/2 Antiferromagnet

F. Bert 1 , D. Bono 1 , P. Mendels 1 , J-C. Trombe 2 , P. Millet 2 , A. Amato 3 , C. Baines 3 Laboratoire de Physique des Solides, Universit Paris-Sud, Bt. 510, F-91405 Orsay, France e a 2 Centre dElaboration des Matriaux et dEtudes Structurales, F-31055 Toulouse Cedex 4, France e 3 Laboratory for Muon Spin Spectroscopy, Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen PSI Switzerland

Volborthite, Cu3 V2 O7 (OH)2 2H2 O, is a natural frustrated antiferromagnet (CW 130 K) with S = 1/2 spins (Cu2+ ) sitting at the vertices of a kagom-like lattice built on isosceles triangles. We report on the e spin dynamics of the pure and Zn/Cu substituted samples. Although volborthite shares the unusual features already exhibited in kagom bilayer compounds, namely a dynamical state as T 0, we found that this e dynamical state is much less robust to dilution by non magnetic impurities. On theoretical grounds, it is believed that S = 1/2 Heisenberg spins sitting on a corner sharing triangular lattice should possess an exotic spin liquid ground state dominated by quantum uctuations. The recently re-discovered volborthite [1,2] is probably, up to now, the best experimental realization of these theoretical requirements. The magnetic sublattice of volborthite Cu3 V2 O7 (OH)2 2H2 O consists of S = 1/2 (Cu2+ ) spins sitting at the vertices of well-separated (c = 7.2 ) A kagom-like planes. In contrast to the ideal kagom e e case, the lattice is rather built on isosceles triangles, which might lead to a dissymmetry in the Cu-Cu superexchange constants J1 = J2 . We report here on a comparison of the spin dynamics in the pure compound and Zn/Cu substituted samples. All the samples were synthesized by P. Millet et al. at the CEMES (Toulouse, France). The less Zn diluted samples were studied in PSI while the more diluted ones were investigated at ISIS muon facility. slows down and reaches a T -independent value around 1 K. This low-T dynamical plateau, also found in the formerly studied kagome-bilayers compounds [3,4], seems to be a robust landmark of the frustrated systems. It is a strong support to quantum dynamics at low T . Moreover, this study pointed out an unusual sensitivity to dilution: namely, the dynamical plateau disappears at a rather low impurity rate (see Fig. 2). Whether this feature comes from the dissymmetry of the interactions or is intrinsic to single-layer kagome lattice is still to be understood. In conclusion, volborthite is a very promising compound which retains most of the physics expected for a spin liquid. This study enforces the universality of the features pointed out in the S = 3/2 chromate (SCGO).

Figure 1: Temperature dependence of the muon depolarization rate in the pure and Zn diluted volborthite samples. Decoupling experiments at the lowest temperature showed that there are two muon sites in the volborthite compounds, one mainly sensing the proton nuclear eld and the other sensitive to the electronic spin magnetism. All the experiments were thus performed with a 100 G longitudinal eld to single out the latter component. The relaxation rate as a function of temperature is plotted in Fig. 1. Below about 3 K, the spin dynamics

Figure 2: Dependence on dilution of the relaxation rate on the dynamical plateau for a kagome bilayer (SCGO) and volborthite. The x axes have been renormalized by the percolation threshold for each lattice. [1] M.A. Lafontaine et al., J. Solid State Chem. 85, 220 (1990). [2] Z. Hiroi et al., J. Phys. Soc. Japan, 70, 3377 (2001). [3] Y.J. Uemura et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 73, 3306 (1994). [4] D. Bono et al., to be published in J. Phys.: Cond. Matter. Work partially performed at SS Proposal number: RA-01-16 Instruments: GPS, LTF