Evidence for a gapped spin-liquid ground state in a kagome Heisenberg antiferromagnet
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The kagome Heisenberg antiferromagnet is a leading candidate in the search for a spin system with a quantum spin-liquid ground state. The nature of its ground state remains a matter of active debate. We conducted oxygen-17 single-crystal nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurements of the spin-1/2 kagome lattice in herbertsmithite [ZnCu3(OH)6Cl2], which is known to exhibit a spinon continuum in the spin excitation spectrum. We demonstrated that the intrinsic local spin susceptibility χ(kagome), deduced from the oxygen-17 NMR frequency shift, asymptotes to zero below temperatures of 0.03J, where J ~ 200 kelvin is the copper-copper superexchange interaction. Combined with the magnetic field dependence of χ(kagome) that we observed at low temperatures, these results imply that the kagome Heisenberg antiferromagnet has a spin-liquid ground state with a finite gap.
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