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Diffusive excitonic bands from frustrated triangular sublattice in a singlet-ground-state system...

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Nature Communications
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Magnetic order in most materials occurs when magnetic ions with finite moments arrange in a particular pattern below the ordering temperature. Intriguingly, if the crystal electric field (CEF) effect results in a spin-singlet ground state, a magnetic order can still occur due to the exchange interactions between neighboring ions admixing the excited CEF levels. The magnetic excitations in such a state are spin excitons generally dispersionless in reciprocal space. Here we use neutron scattering to study stoichiometric Ni2Mo3O8, where Ni2+ ions form a bipartite honeycomb lattice comprised of two triangular lattices, with ions subject to the tetrahedral and octahedral crystalline environment, respectively. We find that in both types of ions, the CEF excitations have nonmagnetic singlet ground states, yet the material has magnetic order. Furthermore, CEF spin excitons from the tetrahedral sites form a dispersive diffusive pattern around the Brillouin zone boundary, likely due to spin entanglement and geometric frustrations.