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      Fermionic response from fractionalization in an insulating two-dimensional magnet

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          Abstract

          Conventionally ordered magnets possess bosonic elementary excitations, called magnons. By contrast, no magnetic insulators in more than one dimension are known whose excitations are not bosons but fermions. Theoretically, some quantum spin liquids (QSLs) -- new topological phases which can occur when quantum fluctuations preclude an ordered state -- are known to exhibit Majorana fermions as quasiparticles arising from fractionalization of spins. Alas, despite much searching, their experimental observation remains elusive. Here, we show that fermionic excitations are remarkably directly evident in experimental Raman scattering data across a broad energy and temperature range in the two-dimensional material \(\alpha\)-RuCl\(_3\). This shows the importance of magnetic materials as hosts of Majorana fermions. In turn, this first systematic evaluation of the dynamics of a QSL at finite temperature emphasizes the role of excited states for detecting such exotic properties associated with otherwise hard-to-identify topological QSLs.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          2016-02-16
          Article
          10.1038/nphys3809
          1602.05277

          http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

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          Nature Physics, nphys3809 (2016)
          5 pages, 3 figures
          cond-mat.str-el cond-mat.mtrl-sci

          Condensed matter

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