Quantum criticality in a metallic spin liquid

Nat Mater. 2014 Apr;13(4):356-9. doi: 10.1038/nmat3900.


When magnetic order is suppressed by frustrated interactions, spins form a highly correlated fluctuating 'spin liquid' state down to low temperatures. The magnetic order of local moments can also be suppressed when they are fully screened by conduction electrons through the Kondo effect. Thus, the combination of strong geometrical frustration and Kondo screening may lead to novel types of quantum phase transition. We report low-temperature thermodynamic measurements on the frustrated Kondo lattice Pr₂Ir₂O₇, which exhibits a chiral spin liquid state below 1.5 K as a result of the frustrated interaction between Ising 4f local moments and their interplay with Ir conduction electrons. Our results provide a first clear example of zero-field quantum critical scaling that emerges in a spin liquid state of a highly frustrated metal.