Phase Competition in the Palmer-Chalker
XY
Pyrochlore
Er2Pt2O7Academic Article

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We report neutron scattering measurements on Er_{2}Pt_{2}O_{7}, a new addition to the XY family of frustrated pyrochlore magnets. Symmetry analysis of our elastic scattering data shows that Er_{2}Pt_{2}O_{7} orders into the k=0, Γ_{7} magnetic structure (the Palmer-Chalker state), at T_{N}=0.38 K. This contrasts with its sister XY pyrochlore antiferromagnets Er_{2}Ti_{2}O_{7} and Er_{2}Ge_{2}O_{7}, both of which order into Γ_{5} magnetic structures at much higher temperatures, T_{N}=1.2 and 1.4 K, respectively. In this temperature range, the magnetic heat capacity of Er_{2}Pt_{2}O_{7} contains a broad anomaly centered at T^{*}=1.5 K. Our inelastic neutron scattering measurements reveal that this broad heat capacity anomaly sets the temperature scale for strong short-range spin fluctuations. Below T_{N}=0.38 K, Er_{2}Pt_{2}O_{7} displays a gapped spin-wave spectrum with an intense, flat band of excitations at lower energy and a weak, diffusive band of excitations at higher energy. The flat band is well described by classical spin-wave calculations, but these calculations also predict sharp dispersive branches at higher energy, a striking discrepancy with the experimental data. This, in concert with the strong suppression of T_{N}, is attributable to enhanced quantum fluctuations due to phase competition between the Γ_{7} and Γ_{5} states that border each other within a classically predicted phase diagram.