Nature of spin excitations in a magnetization plateau.
Magnetization plateaus in quantum magnets---where bosonic quasiparticles crystallize into emergent spin superlattices---are spectacular yet simple examples of collective quantum phenomena escaping classical description. While magnetization plateaus have been observed in a number of spin-1/2 antiferromagnets, the description of their magnetic excitations remains an open theoretical and experimental challenge. Here, we investigate the dynamical properties of the triangular-lattice spin-1/2 antiferromagnet Ba$_3$CoSb$_2$O$_9$ in its 1/3 magnetization plateau phase using a combination of nonlinear spin-wave theory and neutron scattering measurements. The excellent agreement between our theoretical treatment and the experimental data demonstrates that magnons behave semiclassically in the plateau in spite of the purely quantum origin of the underlying magnetic structure. This allows for a quantitative determination of Ba$_3$CoSb$_2$O$_9$ exchange parameters. We discuss the implication of our results to the strong deviations from semiclassical behavior observed in the zero-field spin dynamics of the same material and conclude they must have an intrinsic origin.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1701.07971
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