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Quantum criticality and universal scaling of a quantum antiferromagnet


Quantum effects dominate the behaviour of many diverse materials. Of particular current interest are those systems in the vicinity of a quantum critical point (QCP). Their physical properties are predicted to reflect those of the nearby QCP with universal features independent of the microscopic details. The prototypical QCP is the Luttinger liquid (LL), which is of relevance to many quasi-one-dimensional materials. The magnetic material KCuF3 realizes an array of weakly coupled spin chains (or LLs) and thus lies close to but not exactly at the LL quantum critical point. By using inelastic neutron scattering we have collected a complete data set of the magnetic correlations of KCuF3 as a function of momentum, energy and temperature. The LL description is found to be valid over an extensive range of these parameters, and departures from this behaviour at high and low energies and temperatures are identified and explained.

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Figure 1: Inelastic neutron scattering data for KCuF3.
Figure 2: Inelastic neutron scattering data for KCuF3 measured well below TN and plotted as a function of energy and wavevector parallel to the chain direction.
Figure 3: Universal energy/temperature scaling in KCuF3.
Figure 4: Magnetic crossover diagram showing the different physical regimes of KCuF3 as a function of energy and temperature.


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We thank J. S. Caux, R. Coldea, F. H. L. Essler and A. M Tsvelik for helpful discussions and G. Shirane for the loan of the crystal. ORNL is operated by UT-Battelle LLC., under contract no. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the US Department of Energy.

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Correspondence to Bella Lake.

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Lake, B., Tennant, D., Frost, C. et al. Quantum criticality and universal scaling of a quantum antiferromagnet. Nature Mater 4, 329–334 (2005).

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