Pseudo-Goldstone Magnons in the Frustrated S=3/2 Heisenberg Helimagnet ZnCr2Se4 with a Pyrochlore Magnetic Sublattice

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Low-energy spin excitations in any long-range ordered magnetic system in the absence of magneto-crystalline anisotropy are gapless Goldstone modes emanating from the ordering wave vectors. In helimagnets, these modes hybridize into the so-called helimagnon excitations. Here we employ neutron spectroscopy supported by theoretical calculations to investigate the magnetic excitation spectrum of the isotropic Heisenberg helimagnet ZnCr2Se4 with a cubic spinel structure, in which spin-3/2 magnetic Cr3+ ions are arranged in a geometrically frustrated pyrochlore sublattice. Apart from the conventional Goldstone mode emanating from the (00 q(h)) ordering vector, low-energy magnetic excitations in the single-domain proper-screw spiral phase show soft helimagnon modes with a small energy gap of similar to 0.17 meV, emerging from two orthogonal wave vectors (q(h) 00) and (0 q(h) 0) where no magnetic Bragg peaks are present. We term them pseudo-Goldstone magnons, as they appear gapless within linear spin-wave theory and only acquire a finite gap due to higher-order quantum-fluctuation corrections. Our results are likely universal for a broad class of symmetric helimagnets, opening up a new way of studying weak magnon-magnon interactions with accessible spectroscopic methods.


Original languageEnglish
Article number041049
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017

External IDs

Scopus 85036613257




Library keywords