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Hall-effect evolution across a heavy-fermion quantum critical point


A quantum critical point (QCP) develops in a material at absolute zero when a new form of order smoothly emerges in its ground state. QCPs are of great current interest because of their singular ability to influence the finite temperature properties of materials. Recently, heavy-fermion metals have played a key role in the study of antiferromagnetic QCPs. To accommodate the heavy electrons, the Fermi surface of the heavy-fermion paramagnet is larger than that of an antiferromagnet1,2,3. An important unsolved question is whether the Fermi surface transformation at the QCP develops gradually, as expected if the magnetism is of spin-density-wave (SDW) type4,5, or suddenly, as expected if the heavy electrons are abruptly localized by magnetism6,7,8. Here we report measurements of the low-temperature Hall coefficient (RH)—a measure of the Fermi surface volume—in the heavy-fermion metal YbRh2Si2 upon field-tuning it from an antiferromagnetic to a paramagnetic state. RH undergoes an increasingly rapid change near the QCP as the temperature is lowered, extrapolating to a sudden jump in the zero temperature limit. We interpret these results in terms of a collapse of the large Fermi surface and of the heavy-fermion state itself precisely at the QCP.

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Figure 1: Temperature dependence of the Hall effect of YbRh2Si2.
Figure 2: Magnetic field dependence of the Hall effect of YbRh2Si2.
Figure 3: Temperature–field phase diagrams of YbRh2Si2.

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We acknowledge discussions with P. Bühler, J. Custers, C. Langhammer, C. Pépin, A. Rosch, A. Schofield, M. Vojta, A. Tsvelik and F. Weickert. Part of the work at Dresden was supported by the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie. P.C. and Q.S. are supported by the National Science Foundation. The work at Rice University was partially supported by the Welch Foundation and TCSAM.

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Correspondence to S. Paschen.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Methods 1

Proof that the longitudinal field B2 produces essentially no Hall response. (PDF 32 kb)

Supplementary Methods 2

Determination of the orbital part of the differential Hall coefficient (Equation 2) within the Kubo formalism. (PDF 44 kb)

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Paschen, S., Lühmann, T., Wirth, S. et al. Hall-effect evolution across a heavy-fermion quantum critical point. Nature 432, 881–885 (2004).

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