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


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 (pc = 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 pc (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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Figure 1: Schematic temperature T versus pressure p phase diagram of MnSi, and qualitative illustration of the scattering intensity characteristic of the magnetic state.
Figure 2: Longitudinal (L) and transverse (T) scans of the magnetic scattering intensity with respect to (110).
Figure 3: Temperature dependence of the longitudinal peak intensity for scans along (111) and (110) at various pressures.


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We acknowledge discussions with P. Böni, A. N. Bogdanov, E. Dormann, B. Fåk, P. C. Howell, B. Keimer, B. Lebech, G. G. Lonzarich, I. Mazin, A. J. Millis, K.-H. Müller, J. Mydosh, J. Kübler, B. Rössli, S. Sachdev, S. S. Saxena, J. Schmalian, Q. Si, M. Turlakov, U. Rössler, M. Vojta, P. Wölfle and J. Zaanen. Help with the experiments from M. Uhlarz, B. Hennion, J. Haug, E. Garcia-Matres and the staff of the Laboratoire Léon Brillouin (Saclay) and the Hahn-Meitner Institut (Berlin), respectively, is also acknowledged. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft and the European Science Foundation under FERLIN.

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Pfleiderer, C., Reznik, D., Pintschovius, L. et al. Partial order in the non-Fermi-liquid phase of MnSi. Nature 427, 227–231 (2004).

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