In a class of frustrated magnets known as spin ice, magnetic monopoles emerge as classical defects and interact via the magnetic Coulomb law. With quantum-mechanical interactions, these magnetic charges are carried by fractionalized bosonic quasi-particles, spinons, which can undergo Bose-Einstein condensation through a first-order transition via the Higgs mechanism. Here, we report evidence of a Higgs transition from a magnetic Coulomb liquid to a ferromagnet in single-crystal Yb2Ti2O7. Polarized neutron scattering experiments show that the diffuse -rod scattering and pinch-point features, which develop on cooling are suddenly suppressed below TC ∼0.21K, where magnetic Bragg peaks and a full depolarization of the neutron spins are observed with thermal hysteresis, indicating a first-order ferromagnetic transition. Our results are explained on the basis of a quantum spin-ice model, whose high-temperature phase is effectively described as a magnetic Coulomb liquid, whereas the ground state shows a nearly collinear ferromagnetism with gapped spin excitations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)