The material VI3 is of interest because of its unique magnetic properties: its layered structure offers the potential for long range two-dimensional magnetic order. This type of behaviour would be useful for application in future spintronic devices but is challenging to achieve due to the need to overcome thermal fluctuations.
To study the magnetic coupling and spin-orbital ground state, ISIS Facility Development student Harry Lane and his collaborators used neutron spectroscopy to probe the magnetic correlations at low temperatures. In their study, which was published in Physical Review B, they used novel data analysis methods to characterise the magnetic behaviour.
They found evidence for two distinct V3+ domains, caused by the distortion of the crystal structure to form two different environments. In combination with spin orbit coupling, this provides the basis for the desired long range two-dimensional magnetic order.
Related publication: Two-dimensional ferromagnetic spin-orbital excitations in honeycomb VI3. Phys. Rev. B, 104, L020411 DOI:10.1103/PhysRevB.104.L020411