Time-reversal symmetry breaking hidden order in Sr2(Ir,Rh)O4


Jaehong Jeong, Yvan Sidis, Alex Louat, Véronique Brouet & Philippe Bourges

 

[NatureComm]

Layered 5d transition iridium oxides, Sr2(Ir,Rh)O4, are described as unconventional Mott insulators with strong spin-orbit coupling. The undoped compound, Sr2IrO4, is a nearly ideal two-dimensional pseudospin-1/2 Heisenberg antiferromagnet, similarly to the insulating parent compound of high-temperature superconducting copper oxides. Using polarized neutron diffraction, we here report a hidden magnetic order in pure and doped Sr2(Ir,Rh)O4, distinct from the usual antiferromagnetic pseudospin ordering. We find that time-reversal symmetry is broken while the lattice translation invariance is preserved in the hidden order phase. The onset temperature matches that of the odd-parity hidden order recently highlighted using optical second-harmonic generation experiments. The novel magnetic order and broken symmetries can be explained by the loop-current model, previously predicted for the copper oxide superconductors.


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