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Fermi-liquid breakdown in the paramagnetic phase of a pure metal


Fermi-liquid theory1 (the standard model of metals) has been challenged by the discovery of anomalous properties in an increasingly large number of metals. The anomalies often occur near a quantum critical point—a continuous phase transition in the limit of absolute zero, typically between magnetically ordered and paramagnetic phases. Although not understood in detail, unusual behaviour in the vicinity of such quantum critical points was anticipated nearly three decades ago by theories going beyond the standard model2,3,4,5. Here we report electrical resistivity measurements of the 3d metal MnSi, indicating an unexpected breakdown of the Fermi-liquid model—not in a narrow crossover region close to a quantum critical point6,7 where it is normally expected to fail, but over a wide region of the phase diagram near a first-order magnetic transition. In this regime, corrections to the Fermi-liquid model are expected to be small. The range in pressure, temperature and applied magnetic field over which we observe an anomalous temperature dependence of the electrical resistivity in MnSi is not consistent with the crossover behaviour widely seen in quantum critical systems8,9,31. This may suggest the emergence of a well defined but enigmatic quantum phase of matter.

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Figure 1: Dependence on temperature of the electrical resistivity of MnSi.
Figure 2: Dependence on temperature of the low-temperature resistivity of MnSi at 15.0 kbar and for different conditions of applied magnetic field.
Figure 3: Low-temperature resistivity exponent as a function of pressure and magnetic field.
Figure 4: Illustration of the temperature-pressure phase diagram of MnSi predicted by the weakly or nearly ferromagnetic Fermi-liquid model (NFFL).
Figure 5: Dependence on temperature of the electrical resistivity of MnSi at subkelvin temperatures.


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We thank the following for discussions; B. Altshuler, S. Barakat, S. Brown, P. Coleman, J. Flouquet, R. K. W. Haselwimmer, D. Khmelnistkii, A. J. Millis, P. Monthoux, P. Niklowitz, C. Pfleiderer, T. V. Ramakrishnan, S. S. Saxena, B. Simon, M. Turlakov and C. M. Varma. The work was supported by the UK EPSRC and the EU FERLIN programme. N.D.-L. acknowledges support from FCAR of Quebec, NSERC of Canada, and Trinity College and Peterhouse, Cambridge University.

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Correspondence to N. Doiron-Leyraud.

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Doiron-Leyraud, N., Walker, I., Taillefer, L. et al. Fermi-liquid breakdown in the paramagnetic phase of a pure metal. Nature 425, 595–599 (2003).

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