Three-state nematicity in the triangular lattice antiferromagnet Fe1/3NbS2

Arielle Little, Changmin Lee, Caolan John, Spencer Doyle, Eran Maniv, Nityan L. Nair, Wenqin Chen, Dylan Rees, Jörn W.F. Venderbos, Rafael M. Fernandes, James G. Analytis, Joseph Orenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nematic order is the breaking of rotational symmetry in the presence of translational invariance. While originally defined in the context of liquid crystals, the concept of nematic order has arisen in crystalline matter with discrete rotational symmetry, most prominently in the tetragonal Fe-based superconductors where the parent state is four-fold symmetric. In this case the nematic director takes on only two directions, and the order parameter in such ‘Ising-nematic’ systems is a simple scalar. Here, using a spatially resolved optical polarimetry technique, we show that a qualitatively distinct nematic state arises in the triangular lattice antiferromagnet Fe1/3NbS2. The crucial difference is that the nematic order on the triangular lattice is a Z3 or three-state Potts-nematic order parameter. As a consequence, the anisotropy axes of response functions such as the resistivity tensor can be continuously reoriented by external perturbations. This discovery lays the groundwork for devices that exploit analogies with nematic liquid crystals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1062-1067
Number of pages6
JournalNature Materials
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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