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Evidence for pressure induced unconventional quantum criticality in the coupled spin ladder antiferromagnet C9H18N2CuBr4...

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Nature Communications
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Quantum phase transitions in quantum matter occur at zero temperature between distinct ground states by tuning a nonthermal control parameter. Often, they can be accurately described within the Landau theory of phase transitions, similarly to conventional thermal phase transitions. However, this picture can break down under certain circumstances. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the effect of hydrostatic pressure on the magnetic structure and spin dynamics of the spin-1/2 ladder compound C9H18N2CuBr4. Single-crystal heat capacity and neutron diffraction measurements reveal that the Néel-ordered phase breaks down beyond a critical pressure of Pc ∼ 1.0 GPa through a continuous quantum phase transition. Estimates of the critical exponents suggest that this transition may fall outside the traditional Landau paradigm. The inelastic neutron scattering spectra at 1.3 GPa are characterized by two well-separated gapped modes, including one continuum-like and another resolution-limited excitation in distinct scattering channels, which further indicates an exotic quantum-disordered phase above Pc.