Letters to Nature

Nature 427, 227-231 (15 January 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature02232; Received 30 September 2003; Accepted 14 November 2003

Partial order in the non-Fermi-liquid phase of MnSi

C. Pfleiderer1, D. Reznik3,4, L. Pintschovius3, H. v. Löhneysen1,3, M. Garst2 & A. Rosch2

  1. Physikalisches Institut, Universität Karlsruhe, D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany
  2. Institut für Theorie der Kondensierten Materie, Universität Karlsruhe, D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany
  3. Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Institut für Festkörperphysik, D-76021 Karlsruhe, Germany
  4. Laboratoire Léon Brillouin, CEA Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France

Correspondence to: C. Pfleiderer1 Email: Christian.Pfleiderer@physik.uni-karlsruhe.de

Only a few metallic phases have been identified in pure crystalline materials. These include normal, ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic metals, systems with spin and charge density wave order, and superconductors. Fermi-liquid theory provides a basis for the description of all of these phases. It has been suggested that non-Fermi-liquid phases of metals may exist in some heavy-fermion compounds1, 2 and oxide materials3, 4, 5, 6, but the discovery of a characteristic microscopic signature of such phases presents a major challenge. The transition-metal compound MnSi above a certain pressure (p c = 14.6 kbar) provides what may be the cleanest example of an extended non-Fermi-liquid phase in a three-dimensional metal7, 8, 9. The bulk properties of MnSi suggest that long-range magnetic order is suppressed at p c (refs 7–12). Here we report neutron diffraction measurements of MnSi, revealing that sizeable quasi-static magnetic moments survive far into the non-Fermi-liquid phase. These moments are organized in an unusual pattern with partial long-range order. Our observation supports the existence of novel metallic phases with partial ordering of the conduction electrons (reminiscent of liquid crystals), as proposed for the high-temperature superconductors4, 5, 6 and heavy-fermion compounds13.

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